There is substantial interest in integrative oncology care to improve the health and wellbeing of cancer patients in Australia, but limited evidence to guide service development. Here we describe and contrast integrative care centres in Australia, U.S.A., and Germany to inform development of an Australian model of integrative oncology care.
We conducted a mixed method study including a 28-item survey and semi-structured interviews in 16 centres providing integrative care in Australia (10), U.S.A. (3), and Germany (3). A coding schema based on survey responses and interviews was developed and used to compare and contrast services within and between countries.
Common elements across countries identified included ongoing academic activities for medical staff and patients, and importance of open collaboration and communication. German and U.S.A centres had a General Practitioner (GP) or Integrative Physician (IP) as gatekeeper, whereas Australian centres were coordinated by allied health practitioners (AHPs). Major differences were:
Australian centres defined IM as supportive care and patient-centred care, evident in acceptance of patient self-referral. Whereas in Germany and USA GP/IP were required to approve patient access to IM services.
IM models of care differ between the countries examined. The Australian emphasis on patient-centred care is a key point of difference and is driven by a pragmatic approach to service development in response to patient needs. All centres emphasised the need for open communication and collaboration.