Improving survivors’ quality of life post-treatment: The perspectives of rural australian cancer survivors and their carers
journal contributionposted on 03.05.2021, 07:13 by KM Gunn, I Olver, XS Ross, N Harrison, PM Livingston, Carlene Wilson
The transition from urban centres back to rural and remote communities can be challenging for rural cancer survivors after treatment. This study aimed to (a) provide deeper understanding of the experiences of rural survivors who have completed active cancer treatment and returned to their rural communities, and (b) determine strategies to re-orient existing services or develop new interventions to more appropriately meet rural survivors’ service preferences and needs. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 22 adults (64% female) who lived outside of a metropolitan area and had completed active cancer treatment (n = 13), were the carer for a rural/remote cancer survivor (n = 6), or were both a survivor and carer (n = 3). Thematic analysis was conducted to identify dominant themes in the qualitative data. A range of physical, psychological and practical challenges that impact quality of life among rural survivors post-treatment were found. These challenges appeared to be compounded by a lack of trust in local rural healthcare services and a lack of clear post-treatment pathways to quality of life-enhancing support services. Acceptable strategies to overcome barriers included nurse-led, telephone-based, or face-to-face interventions, initiated and continued by the same service provider, and that included support to manage emotional challenges associated with post-treatment survivorship. The findings will inform the design of interventions to better meet rural cancer survivors’ post-treatment support needs.