“We Have to Be Strong Ourselves”: Exploring the Support Needs of Informal Carers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People with Cancer

Lorraine Bell, Kate Anderson, Afaf Girgis, Samar Aoun, Joan Cunningham, Claire E. Wakefield, Shaouli Shahid, Allan Ben Smith, Abbey Diaz, Daniel Lindsay, Adam Masa, Gail Garvey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Informal carers provide an important role in supporting people with cancer. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples experience higher cancer mortality than other Australians. To date, very little is known about the support needs of carers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults with cancer. This article explored these needs through a qualitative study. Twenty-two semi-structured qualitative interviews and one focus group were conducted with carers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults with cancer (n = 12) and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cancer survivors (n = 15) from Queensland, Australia. Half of the carers interviewed were Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Australians. Interviews were transcribed, coded and thematically analysed following an interpretive phenomenological approach. Thematic analysis of carer and survivor interviews revealed four key themes relating to carers’ needs: managing multiple responsibilities; maintaining the carer’s own health and wellbeing; accessing practical support and information; and engaging with the health system. Within these overarching themes, multiple needs were identified including specific needs relevant for carers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, such as advocating for the patient; accessing Indigenous support services and health workers; and ensuring that the cultural needs of the person are recognised and respected. Identifying the needs of informal carers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cancer patients will enable greater understanding of the support that carers require and inform the development of strategies to meet these areas of need.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7281
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume18
Issue number14
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021

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