A new study compiled by Victorian psychologists has found glaring information gaps in Greek Australian sufferers of prostate cancer compared to their Anglo counterparts.
Greek men were less likely to receive information about prognosis, the stages of the disease and follow-up procedures, along with the available support and information services.
Cabrini Health psychologist Moira Callan says of the Greeks who participated in the survey, many were not directed to additional information about their illness by their GPs, nor did they seek additional information online.
“What we found with the Greek participants is that only 60 per cent were comfortable receiving information in English,” she tells Neos Kosmos. “And they were much less likely to seek information online.”
Most of the information they did receive was directly from their specialist or GP, which only included the bare necessities of their treatment. No information was provided about what symptoms to expect, what causes the disease and what help is out there.
“Most of the information they got was ‘this is the treatment and this is how we do it’,” Dr Callan says.
“And the stuff around that, the ‘why do I need this treatment’ and what to do after the treatment, and how to get other help, they weren’t given resources on how to get that help.”
Translated documents were also not used, with many patients unaware translated material existed on prostate cancer.
Patients’ partners were also interviewed, showing that their knowledge on the disease was sometimes better.
If a doctor had given any written material on the disease to the patient, it was normally the spouse who kept and read the information.
The study found that often the consultation was only with the patient, meaning that spouses only heard second-hand information from their husband.
Remarkably, all the Greek patients reported receiving no information about what help and support groups were out there for prostate cancer sufferers.
What the study uncovered was the only primary source of information they were getting was a face-to-face consultation from their GP or specialist.
Dr Callan admits that it is up to doctors to make sure they are giving as much information as possible to their patients, and not exclude those with low English skills.
“Part of the role of health professionals is education,” she says. “You’re likely to be getting patients from a variety of backgrounds and of linguistic skills. [Doctors] have to upskill themselves on what resources are available to them, particularly what’s in other languages.”
The Cancer Council offers a number of fact sheets dealing with prostate cancer that are translated into Greek. These can be accessed by going to www.cancercouncil.com.au