Clinician confidence and education preferences for the treatment of oncology patients and survivors amongst physiotherapists and exercise professionals: a comparison of AYA and adult oncology patients (#99)
Physiotherapists working in an oncology setting often have difficulty referring patients to community settings usually due to lack of knowledge or confidence of community clinicians. For rare populations, such as the Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) population (1.7% of cancer diagnoses in Australia) it can only be assumed that knowledge and skill required to adequately treat these patients is less than for the adult population.
• To compare confidence levels of physiotherapists and exercise physiologists treating oncology patients with adult cancers compared to AYA cancers.
• To determine clinician interest in specialised oncology education, and how best to provide this.
An online questionnaire was distributed to Victorian physiotherapy departments, private physiotherapists and Victorian registered exercise physiologists.
136 people (76% physiotherapists and 24% exercise physiologists) completed the questionnaire. Clinicians reported an average 3.2 and 0.7 years working with adults and AYA’s respectively. 81% reported no experience with AYA’s, and 46% reported no adult oncology experience. 60% reported AYA patient needs as different to adult cancer patients which was reflected in lower confidence levels in treating them. 67% were ‘extremely or ‘somewhat’ confident in treating adult cancer patients under active treatment; increasing to 87% for adults in remission. Only 36% expressed confidence treating AYA’s undergoing active treatment versus 57% for AYA’s in remission. Approximately 50% reported their main challenges as ‘unsure of restrictions’ and ‘patient capacity to exercise’. Online learning was the preferred method for education for both AYA and adult cancer populations, with 90% of respondents wishing to be notified about upcoming education.
There is a significant difference in confidence of clinicians (physiotherapists and exercise physiologists) between treating adult and AYA patients in the community. This poses significant safety issues when referring oncology patients to the community. Targeted education programs need to be developed with a focus on rarer patient population groups to ensure the safety and effectiveness of community treatment of all patients.