Survivorship Care Plans and Information for Rural Cancer Survivors

Research Snapshots of Health Systems and Behavioural Research

What is known?

After cancer survivors have completed all their treatments and specialist appointments, it’s important that they are given clear directions on how to manage their recovery and long-term health.

This is particularly important for survivors returning to rural and remote areas who often have limited access to health and support services.

A Survivorship Care Plan (SCP) is a record and information given to cancer survivors about their diagnosis, treatment, and recommended follow-up care. It contains advice on maintaining health and well-being, how to monitor for recurrence and information about psychological and social support.

Cancer Australia and the Institute of Medicine recommend that an SCP is provided to all patients upon completion of their treatment.

This study aimed to investigate how many Queensland rural cancer survivors are receiving an SCP care plan, then identify any gaps in the information they received upon completing their cancer treatment.

What is new?

This study found:

  • Only 35% of the group reported that they received an SCP.
  • Over two-thirds of the group reported they received information on short-term side effects, follow up appointments and the contact details of their oncology team.
  • Approximately half of the group reported they received information about diet, exercise, counselling and managing late-term effects.
  • Around one-third of survivors reported receiving information on finances, chemoprevention, and monitoring for signs of recurrence.

Participant demographics and their type of cancer appeared to have no significant effect on whether the information was received.

What does this mean?

Cancer survivors living in rural and remote areas are not consistently being provided with adequate survivorship care information.

We need to improve the systems for delivering survivorship care information when patients return home to their rural communities after treatment.

Otherwise, cancer survivors may miss out on the necessary information and advice to assist in maintaining their health, wellbeing and long-term recovery.

Contact: Belinda Goodwin

Reference: Rowe A, Crawford-Williams F, Goodwin BC, Myers L, Stiller A, Dunn J, Aitken JF, March S. Survivorship care plans and information for rural cancer survivors. Journal of Cancer Survivorship. 2022. doi: 10.1007/s11764-022-01204-0.

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