This study involved extensive consultation with the community to identify the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in palliative care.
  • Without the advice of a cultural advocate, it is clear that many doctors make assumptions based on a limited understanding of cultural issues in Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders. This can have serious consequences for these populations' ability to access a high standard of palliative care service.
  • Lack of referrals to palliative care services is probably the most significant factor in preventing Aboriginal and Torrest Strait Islander patients from accessing care. Many are not referred to palliative care at all or are referred at a very late stage in their illness.
  • Comprehensive data on the rates of Indigenous access to palliative care services does not exist. Most providers do not have access to data on the Indigenous status of their clients as this is usually recorded 'upstream' of their admittance to a palliative care program.
  • 'Word of mouth' was widely acknowledged as the most effective way of providing information about palliative caare to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and should be supplemented with written materials specifically targeted to these populations.
  • Rather than making a decision about what they believe is best for the patient, health care professionals should assist the patient and family in making a decision and find ways to support that decision.
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