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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(1), 135; doi:10.3390/ijerph15010135

Exploring Positive Survivorship Experiences of Indigenous Australian Cancer Patients

School of Medicine, The University of Queensland, Herston, QLD 4006, Australia
Menzies School of Health Research, Charles Darwin University, Darwin, NT 0811, Australia
QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Brisbane, QLD 4006, Australia
School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Newcastle, Callaghan, NSW 2308, Australia
Faculty of Health, University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2007, Australia
Princess Alexandra Hospital, Woolloongabba, QLD 4102, Australia
Genesis Cancer Care, Newcastle, NSW 2290, Australia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 9 November 2017 / Revised: 18 December 2017 / Accepted: 4 January 2018 / Published: 15 January 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Indigenous Health and Wellbeing)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [281 KB, uploaded 15 January 2018]


Amongst Indigenous Australians, “cancer” has negative connotations that detrimentally impact upon access to cancer care services. Barriers to accessing cancer services amongst Indigenous Australians are widely reported. In contrast, factors that facilitate this cohort to successfully navigate cancer care services (“enablers”) are scarcely reported in the literature. Through qualitative interviews, this article examines factors that assist Indigenous Australians to have positive cancer experiences. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with twelve adult Indigenous oncology patients recruited from a tertiary hospital in Queensland, Australia during 2012–2014. Data generated from the interviews were independently reviewed by two researchers via inductive thematic analytical processes. Discussions followed by consensus on the major categories allowed conclusions to be drawn on potential enablers. Two major categories of enablers were identified by the researchers: resilience and communication. Individual’s intrinsic strength, their coping strategies, and receipt of support improved participant’s resilience and consequently supported a positive experience. Communication methods and an effective patient-provider relationship facilitated positive experiences for participants. Despite potential barriers to access of care for Indigenous cancer patients, participants in the study demonstrated that it was still possible to focus on the positive aspects of their cancer experiences. Many participants explained how cancer changed their outlook on life, often for the better, with many feeling empowered as they progressed through their cancer diagnosis and treatment processes. View Full-Text
Keywords: Indigenous Australians; survivorship; cancer; qualitative design Indigenous Australians; survivorship; cancer; qualitative design
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Tam, L.; Garvey, G.; Meiklejohn, J.; Martin, J.; Adams, J.; Walpole, E.; Fay, M.; Valery, P. Exploring Positive Survivorship Experiences of Indigenous Australian Cancer Patients. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15, 135.

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