Enhancing Services to Cancer Patients in Regional Australia

The aim of this study is to examine factors that facilitate and enhance the level of cancer services and cancer care to regional cancer patients.

Research shows that cancer outcomes for people living in rural and remote areas are worse that for those living in the metropolitan area. At the time that this research was conducted, cancer and cardiovascular disease accounted for nearly two-thirds of deaths in Australia. This study, conducted by researchers from Murdoch University with support from the WA Department of Health from 2005-2007, aimed to improve the quality of care of cancer patients through identifying gaps in service delivery, working with industry to develop, implement and evaluate strategies to improve services and, close identified gaps.

Research Outcomes:

  • Involvement of the Cancer Care Coordinator, Cancer Support Workers and the Breast Nurse resulted in a much more positive experience for patients and their carers, compared with people who did not have this support.
  • Quality of care was greatly reduced when country patients had to travel to Perth as the level of support available to them was inadequate. Local rural hospitals & staff were seen as being much more supportive and empathetic than metropolitan hospitals.
  • People have minimal knowledge about resources available and how to access them
    • Formal report on the research
    • Congress papers delivered to carers
    • Publication: Cancer Nursing, Vol. 32, No. 6, 2009 (see article link below)

Recommendations from the research:

  • That a sustainable multi-disciplinary referral process be developed and implemented
  • That staffing levels across all disciplines are improved
  • That all patients have a central person who coordinates their care
  • That an integrated approach to discharge planning is developed and includes the coordinator of care and rural cancer nurse working in partnership with metropolitan professionals

Research Team:

Mrs Vicki Drury (Chief Investigator)
Professor Dawn Freshwater
Dr Chutarat Inmaor