• public participation;
  • rural health services delivery;
  • rural health;
  • rural oncology;
  • telehealth/telemedicine


Objective: The current study examined how sociodemographic, psychological, physical and social support variables predict participation in formal support services.

Design: Cross-sectional study.

Setting: Participants were recruited from oncology clinics, cancer specialist clinics and cancer support groups.

Participants: Seventy-six men living outside major Australian cities, the majority with prostate cancer (n = 55).

Main outcome measures: Participants completed the Brief Symptom Inventory, the List of Physical Complaints, the Social Support Subscale of the Coping Resources Inventory and questionnaires related to levels of awareness of, and participation in support services.

Results: Most (82%) of the men were aware of at least one formal service offering emotional support, and 49% of the men had used such a service. Telephone- and Internet-based services were the most used type of support. The only predictor of participation in a formal service was lower age.

Conclusions: Use of a support service was not predicted by psychological or physical symptoms, levels of social support or distance from service centres. Attitudes to different types of services, and support services in general, might be more predictive of actual use. The current findings point to the potential of telephone- and Internet-based support as an acceptable means of formal support for rural and regional men who experience cancer-related distress.