Barriers to radiotherapy utilisation in New South Wales Australia: Health professionals' perceptions of impacting factors.

Journal of medical imaging and radiation oncology

PubMedID: 26076378

Sundaresan P, King MT, Stockler MR, Costa DS, Milross CG. Barriers to radiotherapy utilisation in New South Wales Australia: Health professionals' perceptions of impacting factors. J Med Imaging Radiat Oncol. 2015;.
INTRODUCTION
Utilisation of radiation therapy (RT) in Australia is below recommended evidence-based benchmarks. Barriers to the referral of patients for RT and the uptake of RT by patients may be affecting RT utilisation. The current study aimed to examine health professionals' (HPs) perceptions of potential barriers to RT referral and uptake.

METHODS
A custom survey was developed to assess perceptions regarding the degree to which a range of issues affect decisions regarding RT. Hard copy surveys were disseminated to HPs involved in the care of cancer patients across New South Wales (NSW): medical, radiation and surgical oncologists, physicians (including palliative care), and general practitioners with an interest in oncology. Electronic versions of the survey were disseminated via oncology multidisciplinary teams and professional networks at participating hospitals.

RESULTS
Two hundred fifty-three HPs participated via hard copy (n?=?208) or electronic (n?=?45) surveys. Two-thirds of HPs perceived acute side effects of RT, their management and impact on daily commitments, as well as fear and anxiety about RT, to exert moderate to significant influence on RT decisions. Treatment-related travel, need for accommodation and relocation were also perceived by 64% of HPs to do the same. Over half of HPs rated concern regarding late effects of RT, disruption to family and work life, and the ability to organise family and work commitments around RT, as moderate to significant influences on RT uptake.

CONCLUSION
Perceptions of HPs in NSW reveal potential important influencers of RT decisions by patients and clinicians. An understanding of these additional issues and their actual impact on RT-related decisions may inform future interventions to improve RT access and utilisation.