Cancer care in regional Australia from the health professional’s perspective
Supportive Care in Cancer
Exercise Medicine Research Institute / School of Medical and Health Sciences
This study aimed to identify the factors which health professionals believe influence clinical care and outcomes for people with cancer in regional areas of Australia.
Twelve semi-structured interviews were conducted with a variety of health professionals. Interview questions explored health professional’s perspectives on barriers to cancer care for patients, factors which influence clinical care, and access to support in regional areas. Data were interpreted using an inductive thematic analysis approach.
Two global themes were identified: rural culture and the health system. Within these global themes, health professionals discussed barriers to cancer care in regional areas, predominantly associated with travel, limited workforce, and poor communication within the health system. Participants also noted many positive aspects of cancer care in regional areas, including more personalised care for the patients and faster career progression for professionals.
Despite several strategies to improve rural cancer care in recent times, including innovative models of care and increased infrastructure, health professionals still perceive many barriers to cancer care in regional Australia. These are predominantly associated with patient demographics, travel difficulties, and inadequate governance. However, there are also many notable benefits to receiving care in regional areas which have been absent from previous literature. These positive factors should be incorporated in efforts to enhance regional cancer care through the recruitment of health professionals to regional areas and development of regional community support networks.