Influences on Public Perceptions of the Importance of, and Responsibility for, Supportive Care Following Cancer Diagnosis

Carlene Wilson, Win Lei Lei Phyu, Gemma Skaczkowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Comprehensive cancer services aim to provide support in all domains of care that impact distress: physical, emotional, family, practical and spiritual. The extent of provision, referral and utilisation of these services varies dramatically, suggesting a need to improve understanding of the importance of these services. The aim of this study was to assess Australian community views on the importance of supportive cancer care, the influence of individual difference variables and who is responsible for supportive care provision. An online survey of 369 members of the Australian general public measured demographic variables, experience of cancer, awareness of supportive care, attitude to psychological help seeking, health locus of control and self-efficacy for health. Supportive care importance in physical, emotional, family, practical and spiritual domains was measured on scales from 0 to 100. These were compared to perceived importance of treatment improvements. Perceptions of responsibility for the provision of care were also rated from 0 to 100. Only attitude to psychological help seeking reliably predicted perceived importance, which was uniformly lower for supportive care than treatment improvements. Survivors and their families were viewed as having a high level of responsibility for support, although those who attributed control of health to powerful others ascribed more responsibility to those within the healthcare system. Education of the general public is needed concerning what supportive care is, how it may be provided to patients and the benefits of these services.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1201-1210
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Cancer Education
Issue number6
Early online date18 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Cancer survivors
  • Perceived importance
  • Public perception
  • Responsibility
  • Supportive care


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