Supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people diagnosed with cancer to navigate the healthcare system

Laura Tam, Judith Meiklejohn, Gail Garvey, Jennifer Martin, Jon Adams, Mike Fay, Euan WALPOLE, Patricia Valery

    Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting Abstract


    The barriers that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people diagnosed with cancer face in accessing cancer care are well documented. However, factors facilitating this cohort of patients to successfully navigate the health system such as, culturally-aware clinicians, engagement of Indigenous support workers and financial support, have been largely anecdotal.

    Aim: This study aimed to examine the factors that enable Indigenous patients to have a positive cancer journey.

    Method: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with consenting adult Indigenous cancer patients – recruited from a major tertiary hospital in Queensland. Participant inclusion criteria were: age >18 years, able to provide consent, have an established diagnosis of any type of cancer, and either actively receiving treatment or recently completed treatment (no more than 30 days of study enrolment). Twelve Indigenous cancer patients were interviewed and transcribed verbatim. Transcripts were then independently analysed by researchers through the comparison and contrast of experiences to elicit common themes until no new concepts were identified.

    Results: The factors that assisted Indigenous cancer patients to navigate the health care system were associated with resilience – either innate or adaptive; the level of support received from family and friends was crucial to the patient’s perception of their cancer journey; and spirituality was also highlighted as a source of strength for some. A strong therapeutic alliance was critical to the patient’s positive experience as was support from the health system.

    Conclusion: Despite the often cited barriers to accessing cancer care, some Indigenous patients have reported successful navigation through the system. The determinants of a positive cancer journey appear to be multifactorial–personal, environmental and health-professional associated factors. These factors may provide some guidance to other Indigenous cancer patients in helping them to more positively navigate their cancer journey through the health system.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number468
    Pages (from-to)207-207
    Number of pages1
    JournalAsia-Pacific Journal of Clinical Oncology
    Issue numberS8
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


    Dive into the research topics of 'Supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people diagnosed with cancer to navigate the healthcare system'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this