Table 3

Illustrative quotes for each theme

ThemesIllustrative Quotes
Patients (n=16)Caregivers (n=14)
Heightened sense of threat and risk
 Vulnerability and fearFor the case of myself, if I contact it, the chances of me surviving, I think it’s very slim lah. [laughs] Because I will be physically very weak, and the virus will go for the weak people. (P03)Ya his risk is higher because of his immune system and the treatment that he is getting. Definitely he is of higher risk than our normal people. (C18)
The risk is not worrying that I get it. The risk is I’m worrying my loved one, my dad will get it. (C27)
 UncertaintyCause seasonal flu is quite normal, you go to the clinic you get treated and then it’s okay. You get well. But I understand this COVID takes quite some time. And then also, uh I do not know whether you will, even if you get well, you will get it again or not. Because it’s something unknown. (P08).
We don’t know who are the people around us who are carriers of the virus. This is terrifying. (P16)
We are out and about everyday. You will never know if the people you meet are already carriers of the virus. So everyone- everyone has risks. Unless you isolate yourself completely. You don’t go out to be in contact with others. But this is impossible. (C17)
 Socially irresponsible othersHow do we know if they have an illness. They may not tell you even if they are sick. Right? They will keep quiet, so if we are unlucky we will contract the disease. (P24)
I think in the newspaper it came up, even in the news, I think this couple was charged in court for I think falsely declaring their health and so on. I think there was some news you know. So, we have people like that who just can’t be bothered. (P11)
Sometimes in the market when I see a lot of people not wearing mask and buying stuff as per usual, and even sneeze and cough with only a tissue paper and throw it in the dustbin. They don’t care about anything. They even cough or sneeze in front of us. (C15)
I have no confidence. Because they ask if you have travelled to whatever countries, some people who have went can decide to hide the fact they have travelled to those countries. (C15)
Impact on healthcare experience
 Prioritising cancer and cancer treatmentEven with the condition with this presence of the COVID-19, I am still going to follow what is scheduled. What I need to do, I’m going to do it. I’m not going to get myself frustrated or I’m not going to get myself uh upset about it. If we have to go through, or we have to go through this process, then I think we have to go. (P11)
I felt that my treatment be interrupted, because uhhh my treatment I’m supposed to go weekly you see? Then sometimes we have to cancel one or two appointments I was just wondering whether it will affect the treatment or not. (P08)
I will not defer, because his illness is more, although COVID-19 is important, his illness condition is also important. Although COVID-19 has been spreading, we can wear mask to protect ourselves, for protection. But his treatment has to continue. I am worried that if he stops treatment, his tumor will become bigger. (C15)
He is in a pretty late stage of his condition, and then delaying it might cause, might might cause the cancer cells to come back again, that is why again like it is like no choice right? (C02)
 Necessary disruptions by new proceduresI think it’s a necessary procedure lah. Because you need to trace those who have the virus, you need to trace them. So that you have to try and arrest the spread. So, it is very necessary so we understand it and we have to cooperate. (P03)Reducing the number of people here is good. But have to have at least one person [to accompany the patient], like now, she is here but she will feel more assured with me here. People who are doing treatment are most afraid of loneliness. They have to face this alone. So to allow one person to accompany the patient is a good thing. They will not feel demoralized and overthink. (C17)
Responsibility falls on oneself
 Recognising and taking responsibilityYou must be responsible for your own safety lah. If you are irresponsible you go to places that are, where the virus has occurred, then you are putting yourself into… your own situations. (P09)
As a human being we must be responsible for our action. If we feel that we have the, we have the symptoms, then we have to seek help from the hospital, and we should not be attending any other functions. (P03)
To wash hands more often, so in our daily lives we are more cognizant of our personal hygiene. And the hygiene at home. This is also a good habit. (C17)
Everybody got to hold their responsibility lah … we all have to play a part also. Everybody will play a part lah, yeah. (C19)
 Duty towards the patientMy wife- while my wife is not well. So I cannot get sick and then who is going to bring her here? Ah. that’s the problem. I must get well. (C19)
I have to send my son to chemo, that I take care of him, so I have to protect myself. So whenever I step out from the house, I have to put on mask. (C25)
Striving for normalcy
 Beyond personal controlI think this is life you know. Right or not? If you- if this is- epidemic it’s epidemic. So you can’t stop this. True or not? This is how I feel. If time for you to die you die, if time for to have it you have it. So I don’t think this is either human transmission or anything it’s something that’s fated. I think it’s also- this is also in the life cycle. Every ten years, something like this will happen. (P01)
You can get it even if you stay at home. You will get it if you are fated to. (P13)
 DownplayingI think it doesn’t affect us because we… we don’t go out so much, so we don’t go out then we are not in contact with those who have COVID and we are quite safe lah. (P03)
If we got SARS, ten days ah, will kill you, you know? The [SARS] virus kill you, you know? But this one [COVID-19] is not so bad, you get early treatment ah, I think can be saved. (P30)
My mother, I think less likely la, cause she’s retired and she stays at home most of the time so I think it’s less likely la, yeah. (C26)
 Living life as per normalVirus is already there so what can I do? I cannot like avoid it right? So we have to move on and just lead our lives as per normal. If it hits, it hits la. If it doesn't then… we leave it and see. (P28)
Time to live and continue living you are given the chance, you- you continue living. (P01)
Change our lifestyle? … Life still goes on as normal… maybe to a lesser extent we go out less and we are more careful of our hygiene, and also notice that the hawker centers are also stepping up the cleanliness. (C27)
Sense of safety and trust
 Confidence in authorities’ managementIf without this healthcare system I think we, nobody would know what to do, alright? So with the healthcare in place, the protocol, the system, with uh daily information and advice from the ministries and hospitals, do this do this, keep your hands clean, keep your home clean, everything. I think with that I think this is this is the basic that we can do. (P11)
I see our government doing a lot of, taking a lot of measures, going all out for contact tracing and keep, and uh reminding people you know to be socially responsible and all that. I think that gives a lot of assurance and uh our our healthcare is really tip-top. (P20)
So things got in place very fast and confidently done you know eh with a lot of knowledge and details put in and. I think eh without which it would not have been like this one. I think quite quite quite ok. Quite I mean very well managed. I think it it is the very best situation we can hope for. (C25)
It is not an easy situation for for the government so eh we we just pray and hope that they will make right and good decision and we will just follow la. Follow their decision. (C23)
 Trust in healthcare providersIf the doctor thinks I should defer then I will defer. No choice. So that’s why I tell you. They are the professionals. We’re not. If there are any issues, they’ll explain to us. So whatever they say, I will have to follow. (P14)It is really good that Singapore no death case. So I think err I mean the hospital side [the healthcare providers] are doing a good job, they are really taking care and also taking it seriously. (C22)
 Hoping for a cureJust hope that you doctors can quickly have a medication to cure the illness. So that we all can live a peaceful life. They we will all be okay. Otherwise, if there is no cure, it can kill many people. (P13)Hopefully one day we eliminate the virus so that we won't be facing any… any fear or worry of being infected with the COVID ah, yeah. (C26)