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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(2), 337; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15020337

An Exploration of Underrepresentation of Aboriginal Cancer Patients Attending a Regional Radiotherapy Service in Western Australia

1
Western Australian Centre for Rural Health, The University of Western Australia, 167 Fitzgerald Street, Geraldton, Western Australia 6530, Australia
2
Radiation Oncology, South West Radiation Oncology Service, South West Health Campus, Corner of Bussell Hwy & Robertson Drive, Bunbury, Western Australia 6230, Australia
3
School of Nursing, Midwifery and Paramedicine, Curtin University, Kent Street, Perth, Western Australia 6102, Australia
4
Centre for Aboriginal Studies, Curtin University, Kent Street, Perth, Western Australia 6102, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 22 December 2017 / Revised: 30 January 2018 / Accepted: 7 February 2018 / Published: 14 February 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Indigenous Health and Wellbeing)
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Abstract

Travel logistics impede Aboriginal patients’ uptake of cancer treatments and is one reason for the poorer outcomes of Aboriginal people with cancer. This research examined benefits of a newly established rurally based radiotherapy unit in southwest Western Australia (WA), and included exploring the experience of Aboriginal patients and possible reasons for Aboriginal people’s underrepresentation in treatment. Semi-structured in-depth interviews with 21 service providers involved in the treatment and care of people with cancer, and 3 Aboriginal patients with cancer who undertook radiotherapy at the Service were undertaken. Data were subject to thematic analysis involving immersion in the data for familiarization, inductive coding, investigator discussion and refining of emerging themes and triangulation of patient and provider interviews. Aboriginal cancer patients were positive about the treatment and support they had received, highlighting the often complex challenges faced by rural Aboriginal cancer patients in accessing and maintaining treatment. Service providers offered suggestions for small numbers presenting to the Service, including late presentation, potential perceptions of cultural insensitivity on the part of service providers, out-of-pocket costs and under-ascertainment of Aboriginal status. The Service has put in place practices and initiatives to support patient health and wellbeing, including making the facility more welcoming towards Aboriginal people and ensuring culturally appropriate care. View Full-Text
Keywords: Aboriginal; Indigenous; cancer; cancer patients; radiotherapy; rural; regional; treatment Aboriginal; Indigenous; cancer; cancer patients; radiotherapy; rural; regional; treatment
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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Lyford, M.; Haigh, M.M.; Baxi, S.; Cheetham, S.; Shahid, S.; Thompson, S.C. An Exploration of Underrepresentation of Aboriginal Cancer Patients Attending a Regional Radiotherapy Service in Western Australia. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15, 337.

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