A new website has been launched to provide much-needed information and support to rural South Australians affected by cancer - and it's thanks to the work of a University of Adelaide student and a group of dedicated country cancer patients.
The new Country Cancer Support website - www.countrycancersupport.com.au - provides specific information to people in rural areas affected by cancer on how to cope and who can help.
The need for this website was identified by University of Adelaide Psychology student Kate Gunn, who has conducted extensive interviews with rural South Australian cancer patients and their carers as part of her PhD research.
"The people I interviewed emphasised the importance of being given information that is relevant to them, to enable them to cope better, access support services and find out more about getting to Adelaide for their recommended medical treatment," Ms Gunn says.
Many of the people who helped identify the need for the Country Cancer Support website have been working closely with Ms Gunn to develop its structure and content.
"This project has empowered several rural cancer patients by enabling them to be involved in a meaningful project that has the potential to be of benefit to their communities, and their input and guidance has been invaluable," she says.
One such dedicated person is Sharon Schroeter from Port Pirie, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009. "Being involved with the website has been extremely rewarding," Ms Schroeter says. "I hope that this website will help people to learn and benefit from our experiences at what is a difficult time, especially for people living in the country."
The website includes practical information and interactive features, such as space to share tips and stories with others, and an online "distress screening tool" which is linked with a rural health and support services directory.
The website also houses short video clips that explain what to expect if patients need to travel to Adelaide for treatment, and self-help exercises for people working through difficult emotional issues.
"The content is tailored to meet the needs not only of rural cancer patients and survivors, but also those of their families, carers, supporters and health professionals," Ms Gunn says.
Professor Ian Olver, co-supervisor of Ms Gunn's PhD project and Cancer Council Australia CEO, says: "Previous studies have shown that outcomes for rural cancer patients can be worse than for their city counterparts, and accessing support services is often more difficult.
"This website offers information on practical ways rural people affected by cancer can help themselves, and important information about how to access relevant sources of help, which we hope will help address these inequalities," Professor Olver says.
"The website is a great example of what can be achieved when organisations and members of the community come together with a common purpose," says Professor Brenda Wilson, Chief Executive, Cancer Council SA.
People who use the website and complete a brief online survey about their experience will be eligible to enter a draw to win a Coles Group and Myer voucher valued at $400.
"The results of this survey will be used to determine how helpful the new site is and how it can be improved," says Ms Gunn, who will now travel around the state speaking to cancer support groups and hospitals about the website.
This project is supported by the University of Adelaide, Country Health SA, Cancer Council SA and the Spencer Gulf Rural Health School.
To view the original article visit: http://www.adelaide.edu.au/news/news53521.html