Putting Policy into Practice: How Three Cancer Services Perform against Indigenous Health and Cancer Frameworks

Emma V. Taylor, Marilyn Lyford, Lorraine Parsons, Michele Holloway, Karla Gough, Sabe Sabesan, Sandra C. Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Improving cancer outcomes for Indigenous people by providing culturally safe, patient-centred care is a critical challenge for health services worldwide. This article explores how three Australian cancer services perform when compared to two national best practice guidelines: the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cancer Framework (Cancer Framework) and the National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) User Guide for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health (User Guide). The services were identified through a nationwide project undertaken to identify cancer services providing treatment to Indigenous cancer patients. A small number of services which were identified as particularly focused on providing culturally safe cancer care participated in case studies. Interviews were conducted with 35 hospital staff (Indigenous and non-Indigenous) and 8 Indigenous people affected by cancer from the three services. The interviews were analysed and scored using a traffic light system according to the seven priorities of the Cancer Framework and the six actions of the NSQHS User Guide. While two services performed well against the User Guide, all three struggled with the upstream elements of the Cancer Framework, suggesting that the treatment-focused Optimal Care Pathway for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People with Cancer (Cancer Pathway) may be a more appropriate framework for tertiary services. This article highlights the importance of a whole-of-organisation approach when addressing and embedding the six actions of the User Guide. Health services which have successfully implemented the User Guide are in a stronger position to implement the Cancer Framework and Cancer Pathway.

Original languageEnglish
Article number633
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022


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