Background: Indigenous Australians diagnosed with cancer have substantially higher cancer mortality rates compared with non-Indigenous Australians, yet there is a paucity of information about their end-of-life service utilisation and supportive care needs.
Purpose: To describe the service utilisation and supportive care needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with cancer at end-of-life.
Method: Hospital admission data were linked to self-reported data from a study of Indigenous cancer patients from Queensland, Australia during the last year of their life. Needs were assessed by the Supportive Care Needs Assessment Tool for Indigenous Cancer Patients which measures 26 need items across 4 domains (physical/psychological; hospital care; information/communication; practical/cultural). A descriptive analysis of health service utilisation and unmet needs was conducted.
Results: In total, 58 Indigenous cancer patients were included in this analysis. All patients had at least one hospital admission within the last year of their life. Most hospital admissions occurred through emergency (38%) and outpatient (31%) departments and were for acute care (85%). Palliative care represented 14% of admissions and 78% died in hospital. Approximately half (48%) did not report any unmet needs. The most frequently reported moderate-to-high unmet need items were worry about the treatment results (17%), money worries (16%) and anxiety (16%).
Conclusions: Utilisation of palliative care services that manage a full range of physical and psychosocial needs was low. Addressing worries about treatment results, finances and generalised anxiety are priorities in this population.