What are the supportive care needs of Indigenous cancer patients in Queensland? (#318)
Compared with non-Indigenous Australians, Indigenous Australians have lower incidence but higher death rates from all cancers. They are diagnosed at a later stage, are less likely to access treatment, and have more co-morbidities than other Australians. Consequently, Indigenous cancer patients are likely to have higher supportive care needs.
Aims: To describe the supportive care needs of Indigenous cancer patients in Queensland.
Methods: Cross-sectional study of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adult cancer patients receiving or starting treatment for their cancer in one of four major Queensland public hospitals. We explored the unmet supportive care needs of 205 patients using a newly developed supportive care needs assessment tool that is culturally appropriate and relevant to Indigenous people.
Results: Overall, 57.1% the participants were female, with an average age of 52.1 years (range 19 -78 years, SD 14.38). They were most commonly diagnosed with breast (26.3%), head & neck (16.0%), leukaemia/lymphoma (12.2%), lung (10.2%), or gynaecological cancers (9.8%).
The highest individual supportive care need items where Indigenous patients reported moderate-to-high need for help included: 'worrying about the illness spreading’ (15.1%), ‘feeling down or sad’(14.6%), 'concerns about the worries of those close to you' (14.6%), ‘anxiety’(12.7%), ‘worry about results of treatment’ (12.7%), ‘work around home’ (12.3%), and ‘money worries’ (9.3%).
Conclusions: Psychosocial and practical assistance are particularly important for Indigenous cancer survivors. Routine assessment of, and greater assistance to meet their unmet needs will optimize the standard of care pre and post-hospitalization and may help to improve health outcomes for Indigenous people affected by cancer.