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A national survey of oncology physiotherapy services for cancer survivors in Australia

journal contribution
posted on 2022-03-22, 01:45 authored by DA Shipton, Amy DennettAmy Dennett, AM Sayner, Youci Tang
Background: Cancer is a leading cause of illness globally. Advancements in screening and treatment have led to improved survivorship. Physiotherapy is integral in improving survivorship for people with cancer, with strong evidence supporting the use of various physiotherapy services. However, the scope and extent of these services within clinical practice in Australia is unknown. Aim: Identify and describe physiotherapy service provision for cancer survivors in Australia and describe the scope of physiotherapy services provided to cancer survivors. Methods: This cross-sectional study recruited physiotherapists and their respective managers involved in cancer service/s provision across Australia. Physiotherapy departments of tertiary hospitals and known oncology rehabilitation programs were contacted through a government directory and snowball sampling. The online survey included questions related to the extent and scope of service provision of physiotherapy for cancer survivors. Quantitative data were descriptively analyzed whereas open-ended responses were analyzed and presented narratively. Results: Seventy-nine physiotherapy services were identified from 159 hospitals and/or health networks. Of the 55 (70%) responses received, 87% were from metropolitan areas, whereas 13% were regionally/rurally based services. Prehabilitation services mostly offered individual programs whereas rehabilitation programs had a mix of individual and group-based programs. The service content between prehabilitation and rehabilitation were similar, comprising primarily exercise-based interventions, followed by education and impairment-based therapies. Conclusion: Few designated physiotherapy services for cancer survivors exist in Australia. There is also disparity between service provision between metropolitan and regional/rural areas highlighting a need for clinicians, managers, and policy makers to invest more resources in establishing oncology physiotherapy services.


This work was supported by Western Sydney University School of Health Sciences. This study received in-kind support from Western Sydney University, School of Health Sciences. No other sources of funding have contributed to the study.


Publication Date



Asia-Pacific Journal of Clinical Oncology







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© 2022 John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd.

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