Approaches to support mental health of diverse patients on wait lists for procedures delayed by COVID-19
Due to COVID-19, hospitals across Canada cancelled thousands of procedures for patients with cancer, heart failure and many other conditions. The backlog grows with each week, so even when service resumes, patients will face lengthy waits, and many were waiting for months prior to the pandemic. These patients (and family/care partners), many facing worsening health, are suffering from anxiety, which can further limit physical health and also affect mental health (i.e. depression, substance use, suicide). If untreated, mental health can deteriorate. Clearly, these patients would benefit from approaches (strategies, interventions) to support their mental health. Over the years, many researchers have studied the impact of treatment delays or “waiting lists” on patients. We will summarize ten years of waiting list research published pre-pandemic to identify: (1) the mental health impact of waiting on patients with diverse characteristics, and (2) approaches that hospitals can implement to support mental health of wait-listed patients. We will share the results with our research partners including clinicians and health care managers who lead hospitals and professional organizations in Ontario and Canada so that they can: encourage governments to provide resources for mental health support; share the results even more broadly through the Canadian healthcare community; and implement the results in their hospitals. Doing so may alleviate anxiety among the thousands of patients in Canada waiting for healthcare procedures.