Health service needs (swallowing, nutrition and psychosocial) and personal perceptions of patients attending the Ipswich Hospital Head and Neck Multidisciplinary Clinic. A sub-study of “Does an electronic screening, nutrition and distress screening tool capture those patients and carers who need face-to-face intervention during treatment for head and neck cancer”

Ms Erin  Lawlor1, Ms Kathleen  Dwyer1, Dr Bena Cartmill2,3,4, Prof Elizabeth Ward2,3, Ms Laurelie Wall2,3

1Ipswich Hospital, West Moreton Hospital And Health Service, Ipswich, Australia, 2School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia, 3Centre for Functioning and Health Research, Metro South Hospital and Health Service, Queensland Health, Brisbane, Australia, 4Princess Alexandra Hospital, Metro South Hospital and Health Service, Brisbane, Australia

National and international cancer agencies have recommended regular involvement of allied health professionals to provide supportive care before, during, and following treatment for head and neck cancer. Currently at Ipswich Hospital (IPH) Head and Neck Cancer (HNC) Multidisciplinary (MDT) Clinic, there is limited opportunity for swallow, nutrition and psychosocial screening and as such, minimal early referral for allied health support. As a result, many patients are unable to access best-practice care. In order to improve this, alternative models of service delivery are required to ensure high risk head and neck cancer patients have optimal access to supportive assessment and intervention for swallowing and nutritional deficits within current staffing and service constraints.

The purpose of this project is to:

  • Perform an analysis of patient health service needs (particularly swallowing, nutrition and psychosocial) at presentation to the HNC MDT Clinic.
  • Explore patient experience when attending the HNC MDT. This will more broadly investigate patient perceptions of the clinic.

The study is being conducted in collaboration with Metro South Hospital and Health Service (MSHHS). A cross-sectional sample of patients diagnosed with HNC and attending the MDT will be eligible to participate. Patients will be excluded if they have severe cognitive deficits, non-English reading/writing, significant vision, or hearing or physical dexterity impairments which would limit their ability to participate.

Participants will be invited to complete a health needs assessment screening tool upon arrival to the HNC MDT. Following the HNC MDT, participants will be asked about their experience and perception of attending. This will include completing the Australian Hospital Patient Experience Question Set (AHPEQS) and a series of ad hoc interview questions.

The results of this study will inform IPH HNC MDT on the health service needs and perceptions of its patient population, and help to direct future service delivery accordingly.


Erin Lawlor is an advanced clinical speech pathologist in the acute and outpatient setting at Ipswich Hospital. She has worked across regional, tertiary and quaternary hospital settings in Australia and the United Kingdom. Currently Erin is the Principle Investigator for the project. She has a keen interest in research that is applicable to the clinical setting and patient experience.

Kathleen Dwyer is a Senior Dietitian in cancer care at Ipswich Hospital. Kathleen has a special interest in best practise medical nutrition therapy in head and neck cancer, and has previously worked in radiation and medical oncology, head and neck surgery and multidisciplinary meetings at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, Southampton Hospital (United Kingdom) and Nambour General Hospital.

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