Open Access Highly Accessed Study protocol

Facilitating needs based cancer care for people with a chronic disease: Evaluation of an intervention using a multi-centre interrupted time series design

Amy Waller1*, Afaf Girgis1, Claire Johnson1, Geoff Mitchell2, Patsy Yates3, Linda Kristjanson4, Martin Tattersall5, Christophe Lecathelinais1, David Sibbritt6, Brian Kelly6, Emma Gorton1 and David Currow7

Author Affiliations

1 Centre for Health Research & Psycho-oncology, The Cancer Council NSW, University of Newcastle, Hunter Medical Research Institute & Priority Research Centre in Health Behaviour, Callaghan, Australia

2 Discipline of General Practice, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia

3 Institute of Biomedical Health Innovation and School of Public Health, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia

4 Research and Development, Curtin University of Technology, Bentley, Australia

5 School of Medicine, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia

6 School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Newcastle, Callaghan, Australia

7 Department of Palliative and Supportive Services, Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia

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BMC Palliative Care 2010, 9:2  doi:10.1186/1472-684X-9-2

Published: 11 January 2010



Palliative care should be provided according to the individual needs of the patient, caregiver and family, so that the type and level of care provided, as well as the setting in which it is delivered, are dependent on the complexity and severity of individual needs, rather than prognosis or diagnosis [1]. This paper presents a study designed to assess the feasibility and efficacy of an intervention to assist in the allocation of palliative care resources according to need, within the context of a population of people with advanced cancer.


People with advanced cancer and their caregivers completed bi-monthly telephone interviews over a period of up to 18 months to assess unmet needs, anxiety and depression, quality of life, satisfaction with care and service utilisation. The intervention, introduced after at least two baseline phone interviews, involved a) training medical, nursing and allied health professionals at each recruitment site on the use of the Palliative Care Needs Assessment Guidelines and the Needs Assessment Tool: Progressive Disease - Cancer (NAT: PD-C); b) health professionals completing the NAT: PD-C with participating patients approximately monthly for the rest of the study period. Changes in outcomes will be compared pre-and post-intervention.


The study will determine whether the routine, systematic and regular use of the Guidelines and NAT: PD-C in a range of clinical settings is a feasible and effective strategy for facilitating the timely provision of needs based care.

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