Exploring positive survivorship experiences of indigenous Australian cancer patients

Laura Tam, Gail Garvey, Judith Meiklejohn, Jennifer Martin, Jon Adams, Euan Walpole, Michael Fay, Patricia Valery

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    Abstract

    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 themajor 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.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number135
    Pages (from-to)1-12
    Number of pages12
    JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
    Volume15
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2018

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