Original Research

Challenges to uptake of cancer education resources by rural Aboriginal Health Workers: the Cancer Healing Messages flipchart experience


Mia Bierbaum1 MPH, Research and Evaluation Assistant *

Tania Plueckhahn2 BHSc(Hons), Senior Project Officer

Firona Roth3 BPsych(Hons), Research Assistant

Carmel McNamara4 MPH, Local Innovation Partnership Coordinator

Imogen Ramsey5 BPsych(Hons), Research and Evaluation Assistant

Nadia Corsini6 PhD, Senior Research Officer


1, 2, 3, 5, 6 Cancer Council South Australia, Eastwood, SA, Australia

4 Adelaide Primary Health Network, Mile End, SA, Australia

ACCEPTED: 20 August 2017

early abstract:

Background: The Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Aboriginal) population has a higher age-standardised cancer mortality rate and a significantly lower 5-year survival rate for all cancers than the non-Aboriginal population. Aboriginal people from regional and remote South Australia and the Northern Territory, are often required to travel to Adelaide to access specialist cancer care services. The burden and expenses associated with transport and accommodation and cultural and linguistic factors have been identified as barriers to accessing medical treatment and health services. In collaboration with community and stakeholders, Cancer Council South Australia led the development of the Cancer Healing Messages flipchart and patient flyer to assist health professionals in explaining cancer and the cancer journey to Aboriginal cancer patients and their families. This study examined the usage, acceptability and perceived usefulness of the resources, barriers to uptake, and strategies to improve their utilisation and sustainability.
Methods: An evaluation survey was conducted among Aboriginal Health Workers (AHWs) and other health professionals working with Aboriginal clients in South Australia (n=18). Participants indicated whether they agreed that the resources are valuable, culturally appropriate, helpful for explaining aspects of cancer to Aboriginal cancer patients, and useful with regard patient outcomes, how frequently they used or would use the resources for information, and how they use the flipchart in practice. Participants were also asked to report any usage barriers.
Results: The resources were considered useful, valuable and culturally appropriate by almost all participants; however, there was a discrepancy between intentions to use the resources and actual uptake, which was low. The most commonly reported barriers related to appropriateness for certain patients and lack of availability of resources in some contexts.
Conclusion: The Cancer Healing Messages flipchart and patient flyer are perceived as appropriate, valuable, and useful tools for AHWs. A long-term strategy and clear implementation plan involving education, training and promotion of the materials, is required to achieve broad reach and sustainable utilisation of the Cancer Healing Messages flipchart and patient flyer.