The literature confirms that many oncology patients report high levels of anxiety and stress. Furthermore, clinical experience has identified that cancer patients have difficulty in accessing affordable quality stress reduction therapies.
A Quality Project was completed by The Northern Hospital (TNH), Social Work Department, titled “Evaluation of Social Work Services in Oncology Breast Clinic” (2008). The study reported that 69% (11/16) of patients participating answered “yes” to a question in regard to attending relaxation sessions if offered.
In addition, patients attending a “Living with Cancer” Education session in 2009 identified limited access to quality complimentary therapies in the North Western metropolitan area, as well as issues of affordability.
In August 2009, a BreaCan workshop was conducted at another Northern Health site - Craigieburn Health Service (CHS). A number of participants attending the workshop articulated their interest in meditation or relaxation sessions and also identified a need for a cancer support group.
In response to
• Patient interest
• Northern Health’s strategic goals of quality patient care, appropriate access and consumer participation.
• The Department of Human Services’ Supportive Care initiative.
Social Work offered a meditation program for cancer patients and their significant others, with the aim of:
• Reducing identified levels of distress or anxiety, particularly in relation to adjustment to a cancer diagnosis, treatment and survivorship.
• Improving the quality of life for the participants.
In 2009, an evaluation of an eight-week pilot program clearly showed that a high percentage of participants’ stress levels were significantly reduced after each of the 1-hour sessions.
As a result of the successful pilot program, it was agreed that TNH would continue to offer a weekly 1-hour open support and meditation group, facilitated by Oncology Social Work. To date the program continues to be well attended and supported by patients, survivors and significant others.