Patients’ Experiences of Colorectal Cancer and Oncology Services in North Queensland
Craig Veitch, Lisa Crossland, Heather Hanks, Yik-Hong Ho and Marlous Steeghs
Australian Journal of Primary Health
14(3) 93 - 100
Published: 10 January 2008
Colorectal cancer (CRC) accounts for 15% of cancer incidence and mortality in Australia. Incidence rates have been rising for two decades. Little is known about the experiences, attitudes and perceptions of people with CRC who live in non-metropolitan areas. The aim of this study was to investigate participants’ experiences with and attitudes to CRC. This Cancer Council of Queensland-funded project collected data in three phases - focus groups, individual interviews, postal survey - from patients treated for CRC in north Queensland. Qualitative and quantitative approaches were used to analyse the data. Participants had very little knowledge of CRC signs and symptoms pre-diagnosis, which sometimes led to delays in diagnosis. The speed of diagnosis was dependent on several practitioner-related factors. Treatment-related issues included coming to grips with the diagnosis and preparedness for treatment and side-effects. Personal beliefs and attitudes influenced treatment and follow-up decisions. Rural participants encountered travel-related difficulties, particularly during treatment as outpatients. There was a strong belief in the need for more public education about CRC in general, warning signs and symptoms, and familial risk factors. Good understanding of people’s knowledge of CRC, their attitudes towards screening, diagnosis, treatment and follow-up, will enable health and cancer services provide focused and relevant support to people with CRC, their families and carers. This is especially important in non-metropolitan areas where the full range of specialist services is not locally available.
Full text doi:10.1071/PY08041
© La Trobe University 2008