Enhancing services to cancer patients (2006)

Enhancing services to cancer patients in regional Australia (2006)

Partners: Murdoch University & Health Department of WA

Research team: Professor Dawn Freshwater, Dr Chutarat and Mrs Vicki Drury

Completed 2007 Duration: 1 year  Cost: $ 60,000

Project description:
Inequality of rural cancer care had been identified as contributing to higher mortality rates of cancer patients in rural Australia (Underhill et al., 2006). At the time this research was conducted, cancer and cardiovascular disease accounted for nearly two-thirds of deaths in Australia. This study 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 service and close identified gaps.


  • Involvement of 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. Level of support available to them was inadequate. Local rural hospitals & staff were seen as being much more supportive and empathetic than metropolitan hospitals
  • Evidence that 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)

1. That a sustainable multi-disciplinary referral process be developed and implemented
2. That staffing levels across all disciplines are improved
3. That all patients have a central person who coordinates their care
4. 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
5. Further research recommendations were made


Murdoch uni logo

Health department logo


ExploringPatientExperiencesofCancerServicesinRegionalAustralia-CancerNursing Vol32 No 6 2009


Underhill, C., Goldstein, D., Grogan, P., 2006 Inequality in rural cancer survival in Australia is not an insurmountable problem: it is a test of our health systems. Medical Journal of Australia 185 (9), 479-448)