Poster & Mini Oral Joint 2016 COSA and ANZBCTG Annual Scientific Meeting

Oncology rehabilitation in Australia, 'why isn't it standard practice?': a mixed methods study? (#190)

Amy M Dennett 1 2 , Casey L Peiris 1 , Nora Shields 1 3 , Delwyn Morgan 2 , Nicholas F Taylor 1 2
  1. La Trobe University, Bundoora, VIC, Australia
  2. Allied Health Clinical Research Office, Eastern Health, Box Hill, Vic, Australia
  3. Allied Health Learning and Research Unit , Northern Health, Epping, Vic, Australia

Aim: Oncology rehabilitation improves outcomes for cancer survivors but little is known about program availability in Australia. The aims of this study were: to describe oncology rehabilitation programs in Australia, to determine whether the exercise component of these programs was consistent with guidelines, and to explore barriers and facilitators to program implementation.

Methods: A sequential, explanatory mixed-methods study was completed in two phases:  (1) A survey of Australian oncology rehabilitation programs; and (2) purposively sampled follow-up semi-structured interviews with senior clinicians working in oncology rehabilitation.

Results: Hospitals and/or cancer centres from 42 public hospital health networks (representing 163 hospitals) and 39 private hospitals were contacted to identify 31 oncology rehabilitation programs. All 31 surveys were returned (100% response rate). Programs were typically multidisciplinary, ran twice weekly, provided education and exercise, and included self-management strategies. Exercise prescription and progression was patient centered and included a combination of resistance and aerobic training supplemented by balance, pelvic floor and core stability exercises. Challenges to implementation included a lack of awareness of programs in the community and organisational barriers such as funding.  Strong links with oncologists facilitated program referrals.

Conclusion: Despite evidence to support oncology rehabilitation, there are few programs in Australia and there are challenges that limit it becoming part of standard practice. Programs that exist are multi-disciplinary and place a greater emphasis on patient factors rather than published exercise guidelines.