Measuring (and narrowing) the gap: The experience with attendance of Indigenous cancer patients for Radiation Therapy in the Northern Territory

Scott Carruthers, Mary Pennefather, Linda Ward, Kar Giam, Michael Penniment

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    Introduction: Barriers exist for both Indigenous and remote patients attending cancer care facilities. We sought to measure clinical attendance of all patients referred for consideration of radiation therapy (RT) at the single radiation therapy centre in the Northern Territory (NT), with particular attention to a comparison of Indigenous and non-Indigenous patients, and to analyse methods introduced to address the attendance of patients.

    Methods: Patients referred for radiation therapy over a 5 year period from the commencement of the Alan Walker Cancer Care Centre (AWCCC), NT, were analysed for attendance, and for possible improvement over time.

    Results: Multivariate analysis of non-attendance prior to RT (pre-RT) showed significance for Indigenous status (P < 0.001), and female gender (P < 0.001), and during RT showed significance for Indigenous status (P < 0.001) and curative intent RT (P = 0.012). Attendance during RT over the 5 years showed significant improvement over time for Indigenous patients from 70.6% to 81.6% (P = 0.038). There was no significant improvement with pre-RT attendance for either the Indigenous or non-Indigenous cohort.

    Conclusion: Indigenous patients experienced a lower level of attendance during RT, but this has significantly improved over the first 5 years of operation at AWCCC, as recognition and management of contributing factors has improved.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)510-516
    Number of pages7
    JournalJournal of Medical Imaging and Radiation Oncology
    Issue number4
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 May 2019


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