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International Journal for Equity in Health

, 11:57

First Online: 10 October 2012Received: 03 April 2012Accepted: 05 October 2012DOI: 10.1186-1475-9276-11-57

Cite this article as: Bernardes, C.M., Whop, L.J., Garvey, G. et al. Int J Equity Health 2012 11: 57. doi:10.1186-1475-9276-11-57


IntroductionIndigenous Australians experience more aggressive cancers and higher cancer mortality rates than other Australians. Cancer patients undergoing treatment are likely to access health services e.g. social worker, cancer helpline, pain management services. To date Indigenous cancer patients’ use of these services is limited. This paper describes the use of health services by Indigenous cancer patients.

MethodsIndigenous cancer patients receiving treatment were recruited at four major Queensland public hospitals Royal Brisbane Women’s Hospital, Princess Alexandra, Cairns Base Hospital and Townsville Hospital. Participants were invited to complete a structured questionnaire during a face-to-face interview which sought information about their use of community and allied health services.

ResultsOf the 157 patients interviewed most were women 54.1%, of Aboriginal descent 73.9%, lived outer regional areas 40.1% and had a mean age of 52.2 years. The most frequent cancer types were breast cancer 22.3%, blood related 14.0%, lung 12.1% and gastroenterological 10.8%. More than half of the participants reported using at least one of the ‘Indigenous Health Worker-Services’ 76.4%, ‘Allied Health Workers-Services’ 72.6% and ‘Information Sources’ 70.7%. Younger participants 19–39 years were more likely to use information sources 81.0% than older participants who more commonly used community services 48.8%. The cancer patients used a median of three health services groups while receiving cancer treatment.

ConclusionsIndigenous cancer patients used a range of health services whilst receiving treatment. Indigenous Health Workers-Services and Allied Health Workers-Services were the most commonly used services. However, there is a need for further systematic investigation into the health service utilization by Indigenous cancer patients.

KeywordsIndigenous Australian Cancer Health services utilization Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article doi:10.1186-1475-9276-11-57 contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Autor: Christina M Bernardes - Lisa J Whop - Gail Garvey - Patricia C Valery


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