Quality of life in the first year of cancer diagnosis among Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people living in regional and remote areas of Australia

Elaina Elder-Robinson, Abbey Diaz, Kirsten Howard, Darshit Rajeshkumar Parikh, Giam Kar, Gail Garvey

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Little is known of the quality of life (QoL) of cancer patients in the Northern Territory (NT) of Australia, where healthcare delivery is geographically challenged. This exploratory study describes QoL among Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal cancer patients in the NT, in the first year of diagnosis. Participants were recruited from the only cancer care centre in the NT and completed the Assessment of Quality-of-Life questionnaire (AQoL-4D). The results were descriptively analysed. The participants’ (n = 63; mean age 58.8 years) mean AQoL utility score was 0.72 (SD 0.26); patients scored lowest in the relationships and mental health dimensions of the questionnaire (mean 0.89, SD 0.19, and 0.89, SD 0.17, respectively). Participants living in remote and very remote areas (46%) reported higher QoL scores, compared with participants in the outer regional capital city of the NT in the overall (mean 0.76, SD 0.22 and 0.78, SD 0.20 vs. 0.67, SD 0.29, respectively), and mental health dimensions (mean 0.92, SD 0.09 and mean 0.94, SD 0.06 vs. 0.85, SD 0.22, respectively). The findings were suggestive of clinically meaningful differences across socioeconomic groups, cancer and treatment types, and comorbidity status. Mean QoL scores were consistent with previous reports in other Australian cancer cohorts. The findings suggest a need to support cancer patients’ mental health and relationships during the diagnosis and treatment phase of their cancer journey.

Original languageEnglish
Article number330
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) funded Centre of Research Excellence (CRE) in Targeted Approaches To Improve Cancer Services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians (TACTICS; #1153027) and the Centre of Research Excellence in Discovering Indigenous Strategies to improve Cancer Outcomes Via Engagement, Research Translation and Training (DISCOVER-TT CRE, funded by NHMRC No. #1041111). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the funder. D.R.P. was supported by a DISCOVER-TT (NHMRC No. #1041111) post-graduate scholarship and received funding support from Charles Darwin University. AD was funded by the NHMRC-funded TACTICS CRE (#1153027) and a University of Queensland Faculty of Medicine Research Fellowship. GG was funded by a NHMRC Investigator Grant (#1176651).

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© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

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