Aim: To evaluate patterns of health service utilisation among the Australian population with cancer compared with the general population.
Methods: Data for all the respondents aged 25 years and above from two successive Australian National Health Surveys conducted between 2011 and 2014 were analysed. Respondents with history of cancer were identified as the cancer group while all other respondents who did not report having had a cancer were included in the non-cancer control group. Comparisons were made between the two groups using logistic regression models. Subgroup analyses were performed according to cancer status (current cancer versus cancer survivor).
Results: Population with cancer were more likely to report having consulted their general practitioner (Adjusted Odds Ratio 1.60, 95% CI 1.37-1.87), specialist (2.19, 2.03-2.37), chemist for advice only (1.39, 1.24-1.57), dietician (1.34, 1.08-1.66), naturopath (1.33, 1.05-1.68), nurse (1.58, 1.34-1.86), optometrist (1.27, 1.13-1.43), dentist (1.12, 1.04-1.21), audiologist (1.32, 1.04-1.69) and other health professionals (1.54, 1.34-1.78) compared to the non-cancer population. They were also more likely to be admitted to hospital (1.66, 1.52-1.82) and to have visited an outpatient clinic (1.96, 1.77-2.17), emergency (1.34, 1.21-1.49) and day clinic (2.00, 1.78-2.25) than the non-cancer population. Additionally, respondents with a current cancer were more likely to report having consulted an accredited counsellor (1.83, 1.07-3.14), occupational therapist (2.54, 1.58-4.06), psychologist (1.73, 1.20-2.51) and social worker (2.38, 1.41-4.04) than the non-cancer population. Presence of comorbidity and a current cancer were associated with a greater likelihood of receiving health services among the population with cancer.
Conclusion: The population with cancer utilised health services significantly more than the non-cancer population. Further studies on the impacts of integrated care models that aligned with the Australian ‘National Strategic Framework for Chronic Conditions’ in improving the health outcomes among cancer survivors are needed.