Barriers and facilitators to adherence to Optimal Care Pathways for diagnosis and treatment of cancer for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

This study aimed to assess the barriers and facilitators to quality cancer care for Aboriginal people in Australia, considering the standards prescribed by the Optimal Care Pathways (OCP). Semi-structured interviews were conducted with health professionals who deliver care to Aboriginal people with cancer in primary care and hospital settings in New South Wales, Australia.┬áThe 30 participants included healthcare providers such as Aboriginal Health Workers, nurses, general practitioners, and community workers. The findings revealed that while preventive care and access to primary care, pathology, radiology, and certain specialists were generally perceived as good, significant barriers existed in accessing hospital-based gastroenterologists for colonoscopy due to long wait times and a lack of bulk-billing for crucial cancer surgeries. Additional barriers included unclear referral pathways, poor communication between patients and healthcare teams, and delays in providing discharge summaries. However, programs like Integrated Team Care and Close the Gap, along with key health workers, were identified as facilitators of optimal care. This study highlighted the “Inverse Care” law, where those at higher risk of cancer had reduced access to necessary specialist and procedural care. Read the full article here.
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