Incorporating supportive care into routine cancer care is an increasing priority for the multi-disciplinary team with growing evidence of its importance to patient-centred care. How to design and deliver a process which is appropriate for patients, clinicians and health services in rural areas needs further investigation.
To (i) examine the patient and clinician acceptability and feasibility of incorporating a supportive care screening and referral process into routine cancer care in a rural setting, and (ii) explore any potential influences of patient variables on the acceptability of the process.
A total of 154 cancer patients and 36 cancer clinicians across two rural areas of Victoria, Australia participated. During treatment visits, patients and clinicians participated in a supportive care process involving screening, discussion of problems, and provision of information and referrals. Structured questionnaires with open and closed questions were used to measure patient and clinician acceptability and feasibility.
Patients and clinicians found the supportive care process highly acceptable. Screening identified relevant patient problems (90%) and problems that may not have otherwise been identified (83%). The patient–clinician discussion helped patients realize help was available (87%) and enhanced clinician–patient rapport (72%). Patients received useful referrals to services (76%). Feasibility issues included timing of screening for newly diagnosed patients, privacy in discussing problems, clinician time and availability of referral options. No patient demographic or disease factors influenced acceptability or feasibility.
Patients and clinicians reported high acceptability for the supportive care process, although mechanisms for incorporating the process into health care need to be further developed.