Rehabilitation program via telehealth to help regional and rural women recovering from gynecological cancer

Women in rural and regional areas recovering from gynecological cancer and treatment will now have access to a University of Queensland rehabilitation program through telehealth.

Professor Sandie McCarthy from UQ's School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work, and co-lead of Mater Research's Health Care Delivery and Innovation program, said additional funding from Wesley Medical Research is expanding the ACUMEN program to help regional Queensland women access support previously unavailable to them.

More than one third of women living with reproductive cancers in Queensland are from regional and rural areas and unfortunately, many can't access the same post-operative support as their city peers.

The new funding from Wesley Medical Research expands the current ACUMEN program by providing this group of women with the support they need through telehealth.

ACUMEN brings together a group of health providers to deliver key recovery tools that will enhance quality of life, and now we can do that through videoconferencing."

Professor Sandie McCarthy from UQ's School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work

Approximately 20,000 Australian women are living with treatment-induced chronic disease after their cancer diagnosis.

The project's Chief Investigator Dr Janine Porter-Steele, from Wesley Medical Research, Wesley Choices Cancer Support and UQ's School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work, said it was important to get regional and rural women involved in the program.

"Most women with reproductive cancers are insufficiently active and it comes down to the lack of support and education provided," Dr Porter-Steele said.

"Despite the known benefits of exercise after treatment, only 30 per cent of women met physical activity guidelines.

"ACUMEN is addressing an unmet need for a large group of women who are at a heightened risk of chronic conditions including diabetes, fatigue, and psychological distress."

Rural and regional participants will receive basic equipment, assessment tools and a Fitbit for activity tracking.

Supervised exercise sessions will be delivered via a videoconferencing platform.

The first phase of the ACUMEN program has delivered face-to-face sessions for almost 50 women in south-east Queensland over the past year.

Program participant Kerry Henry said self-confidence is replaced with fear and loss of control after a cancer diagnosis.

"The program gave me a chance to take control of my fitness, and with the support of great exercise physiologists it improved my strength and balance and I feel so much better within myself."

Queensland women living in regional and rural areas can join the program by emailing the research team at [email protected]

The University of Queensland, Wesley Medical Research and The Wesley Hospital, Mater Research and Metro North Health work together to deliver the ACUMEN program, with new funding from Wesley Medical Research enabling regional and rural women to access the program via telehealth.

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