Caring for someone with cancer in rural Australia

Kate M. Gunn, Melanie Weeks, Kristiaan J.J. Spronk, Chloe Fletcher, Carlene Wilson

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Abstract

Purpose: To explore the experiences of people caring for someone with cancer, while living in rural Australia, and the impact of the cancer-caring role on their well-being. Method: Eighteen adults in regional or remote (‘rural’) Australia who cared for a person with cancer took part in semi-structured telephone interviews. Participants were aged 32–77 years and mainly female (66%). Data were analysed using thematic analysis and an essentialist approach. Results: Eight themes were identified: (1) travel is hard, but supports are available; (2) frustration with systems that do not demonstrate understanding of the rural context; (3) the importance of lay and peer support; (4) the impact of access to trusted, local health care services; (5) the importance of access to rurally relevant information (particularly on relevant services and what to expect); (6) living with uncertainty and balancing loss with hope; (7) reluctance to seek or accept psychological support; and (8) the gendered nature of care. Conclusion: Rural cancer carers’ roles can be made easier by improving health systems and coordination to ease the burden of travel, providing information about available support and what to expect throughout cancer treatment that is relevant to the rural context, and increasing access to quality health, community, and support services, including palliative care, in rural areas. More training on the specific needs of rural patients and their carers is needed for urban health care professionals. Peer support groups may have particular value for cancer carers in rural settings, where there are known to be multiple barriers to accessing professional sources of psychosocial support.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4857-4865
Number of pages9
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Volume30
Issue number6
Early online date14 Feb 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022

Keywords

  • Cancer
  • Caregiver
  • Carer
  • Oncology
  • Regional
  • Remote
  • Rural

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