The enablers, barriers and preferences of accessing radiation therapy facilities in the rural developed world - a systematic review

Sandra C. Thompson, Shelley Cheetham, Siddhartha Baxi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Web of Science)


Background: Utilisation of radiation therapy for regional Australia and around the world has been the focus of much health policy the last decade. Radiation therapy centres have been built in Australian regional and rural areas to improve access to radiation therapy and reduce the tyranny of distance as a barrier to access. After this the enablers, barriers and perceptions of patients has been evaluated to determine utilisation once centres have been built. Thisreview looks the impact of rural radiation services in the developed world, barriers and enablers of establishing a rural radiation centre, and patients' and service providers' perspectives and preferences around the uptake of rural radiation therapy. Methods: Online search of peer reviewed literature was undertaken using MeSH terms relating to the topic. Inclusion criteria were regional radiation therapy centres in developing countries, any year of publication, in English, and qualitative or quantitative methodologies. Articles were reviewed by two authors with conflicts discussed with a third. Results: Twenty three studies addressed the theme directly. Distance barriers have been overcome by building regional centres and health economic burden was lower for government service providers with this strategy. However distance still plays an important role in influencing uptake of radiation therapy. Cultural expectations, influence of the family doctor and perception of care was influential. Carer support, duration of displacement from home, financial impact of the required care and seasonal weather were practical factors on a patient's decision. Conclusions: Regional radiation therapy centres have improved access to radiation therapy in developing countries. However the complex nuances between socio-economic, cultural and health system factors that influence regional patient's decision making bears further consideration, as distance is not the only issue.

Original languageEnglish
Article number794
JournalBMC Cancer
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 28 Nov 2017


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