Poster Presentation Clinical Oncology Society of Australia Annual Scientific Meeting 2017

Improving health literacy in cancer survivors and carers; developing & measuring outcomes from a small group education intervention. (#397)

Donna Lever 1 , Kate Schofield 1
  1. Andrew Love Cancer Centre, Barwon Health, Geelong, VIC, Australia


Barwon Health Cancer Services, Barwon South West Regional Integrated Cancer Service and Cancer Council Victoria piloted a multidisciplinary small group education program.   The pilot targeted the teachable moment at the time of transition to life after cancer treatment.   Elements of motivational interviewing were incorporated within the program to assist participants to achieve behaviour change. Aligning with the principles of chronic disease management, the program aimed to assist survivors of cancer to transition from an illness model to focus on recovery and optimal long-term health.

The three key objectives were to:

  1. provide information about the common physical and psychosocial concerns experienced by survivors of cancer
  2. assist participants to set “healthy behaviours” goals relevant to their cancer treatment and develop a plan to achieve these
  3. achieve sustainability and transferability of the program to other regional and rural cancer services.


Thirty-six participants, survivors of cancer and their carers, attended the program, developed and presented by allied health cancer specialists. Baseline demographics, the Health Literacy Questionnaire (HLQ) and a health lifestyles questionnaire were completed at three time points - prior to the survivorship intervention, one week and three months post intervention.


The sample had an average age of 52 years (range 21-73 years),with more female participants (73%). Outcomes of the HLQ showed a significant change in the mean scores in 4 of 9 domains; Healthcare provider support; Having sufficient information; Actively managing my own health, and Appraising of healthcare information system. Improvement in Navigating the healthcare and Social support approached significance.


The provision of information using a systematic approach demonstrated improved health literacy levels, which may influence survivors’ long-term health outcomes. This project has led to the design of the small group survivorship program that is able to be adapted and run within acute and community health care centres.