What are the post-treatment information needs of rural cancer survivors in Australia? A systematic literature review

Research Snapshots of Health Systems and Behavioural Research

What is known?

Cancer survivors can experience ongoing physical, psychological, social, occupational, and/or financial challenges. Many report that they do not receive all the information they need to help them cope and manage their health during and beyond cancer treatment.

Rural cancer survivors, in particular, experience poorer outcomes, greater hospitalisations, and higher financial and psychosocial concerns compared to metropolitan survivors. They often return home after treatment to areas with limited healthcare and support services, and do not have enough information on where to go for help.

To date, the post-treatment information needs of rural cancer survivors in Australia have not been well understood. This understanding is required to inform the development of clinical guidelines to support the transition of cancer patients returning home to rural communities who have had treatment for cancer in major cities.

What is new?

We systematically reviewed all available literature to assess the post-treatment information needs reported by rural cancer survivors in Australia. We also looked at whether any of these were more commonly reported by rural as opposed to metropolitan cancer survivors.

Fifty-two articles were included in the review, but only six of were dedicated to understanding the information needs of rural cancer survivors suggesting more research on the topic is needed.

Rural cancer survivors reported needing information on prognosis and recovery; managing treatment side effects; healthy lifestyle choices; referrals to support services, and face-to-face and written delivery of information at various times after their treatment was completed. However, many rural cancer survivors often did not receive the information that they needed.

What does this mean?

It is important that survivorship information is provided to rural cancer patients at multiple points following treatment, and that their post-treatment care is well coordinated between the health professionals involved in their care.

Findings will inform the development of national guidelines that can be used in clinical practice to facilitate patients’ transition home to rural communities after cancer treatment in major cities.

Contact: Belinda Goodwin

Reference: Goodwin BC, Zajdlewicz L, Stiller A, Johnston EA, Myers L, Aitken JF, Bergin RJ, Chan RJ, Crawford-Williams F, Emery JD. What are the post-treatment information needs of rural cancer survivors in Australia? A systematic literature review. Psychooncology. 2023 May 29. doi: 10.1002/pon.6169.