Resource rethink needed for cancer care

Posted 19 Jul 2017.


A project aiming to more closely align what cancer patients want from their treatment with how treatment is provided has secured one of our funding grants.

Associate Professor Richard Norman, Health Economist in the School of Public Health at Curtin University has won a $38,000 collaborative grant to lead the project in conjunction with Dr Matthew Anstey and Dr Arman Harsani at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital and Assistant Professor Ian Li at University of WA's School of Population Health.

A/Prof Norman said the project arose out of known inequities in health outcomes and access to care for some cancer patients, particularly for the highly specialised areas of oncology.

He said the first step in this project was to examine what aspects of cancer care are most important to patients.

"We know that cancer patients value factors like travel time and consulting a doctor they are familiar with (during their treatment) but these types of factors are currently not measured or considered in the decisions made about the care and treatment of a patient.

"We want to show the research community and policy makers that factors such as these are important and should be considered in planning decisions about treatment because they can make a difference to health outcomes," said A/Prof Norman.

He said in one sense we're trying to avoid the ‘postcard lottery system' where if you live close to a hospital, it's easier to receive treatment and you're more likely to have a better health outcome.

A/Prof Norman said providing chemotherapy at home, which prevents people from travelling long distances to a hospital for treatment, was another example of a service that was valued by patients, but one where that value was difficult to quantify.

He said when you consider the size of WA and the vast distances some cancer patients need to travel in order to undergo treatment, it was a particularly relevant to question whether we can find a way of designing health care delivery which prevents the need for patients to travel long distances for treatment.

Ultimately he hopes the project will provide data for policy makers to make better decisions about treatment options which in turn would mean higher quality care for cancer patients.

"Policy makers know these factors matter but there is presently no way of quantifying to what extent they make a difference," he said.

A/Prof Norman is hoping to have results from this project finalised by the end of the year.

Our CEO, Ashley Reid said the project highlighted the range and scope of our research funding to achieve better outcomes for cancer patients from a range of disciplines.

The grant has been made as part of a new Collaborative Cancer Grant Scheme for early to mid-career investigators jointly funded by Cancer Council WA, Government of Western Australia, Curtin University, Edith Cowan University, The University of Western Australia, Telethon Kids Institute and the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research.

Our CEO, Ashley Reid said the funding reflects our ongoing commitment to make funding cancer research a priority.

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