Purpose: The purpose of this study was to explore Indigenous Australian cancer survivors’ perspectives of follow-up cancer care and management.
Methods: This is a qualitative study employing individual interviews with 21 Indigenous cancer survivors (13 females, 8 males) recruited from a rural primary health service and large tertiary hospital in Brisbane, Queensland. Yarning methods were used to conduct semi-structured interviews. Yarning is a culturally appropriate, informal conversational process emphasising the importance of storytelling.
Results: Findings describe a range of ways in which follow-up cancer care is experienced with four major categories elucidated, namely: links to tertiary health services, links to primary health services, communication between tertiary and primary health services, and lost in transition. Both positive and negative experiences were described; however, the importance of timely and informative discharge information, continuity of care, good communication between tertiary and primary health services, and strong therapeutic relationships were salient issues raised by participants.
Conclusions: These findings highlight the importance of establishing strong therapeutic relationships between patients and tertiary and primary health professionals. Also important for survivorship is provision of discharge summaries or care plans at discharge for survivors and general practitioners as well as access to a range of allied health services. Alternative means for follow-up could be investigated for regional and rural survivors to facilitate convenient and cost-effective follow-up care. Finally, provision of responsive and flexible follow-up care to cater for the diverse range of needs and preferences of cancer survivors is required. A patient navigator available across the cancer continuum could go some way to addressing this.