Cultural perspectives

The challenges experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with cancer are well documented [34298]. For many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, cancer is associated with death, and holds negative connotations due to stigma and fear surrounding the disease [34298][37413][44300]. As such, it is important to offer culturally safe and responsive health care, to ensure a more positive experience and better health outcomes [35381].

Cancer care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be multidisciplinary, flexible and strengths based [43888]. Central to this approach is the need to understand and respect the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander philosophies of health and wellbeing as holistic concepts and ensure knowledge, values and beliefs are at the core of the delivery of care [35381].

Care coordination that is informed by cultural factors such as traditional healing, connection to country, gender, kinship, family ties, language barriers and socioeconomic issues can support positive health outcomes [35381][43888]. In addition, consideration should be placed on appropriate mental support and the inclusion of family, Elders and the wider community in the cancer treatment process where requested [35381][43888].

Importantly, a skilled Aboriginal health workforce is critical to ensuring holistic cancer care [43888], as are staff who demonstrate cultural safety through sensitive, trauma-informed care and culturally appropriate communication [35381].


Key resources



Karnta by Corinne Nampijinpa Ryan

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