Defining the elements for successful implementation of a small-city radiotherapy department

P. Dunscombe, P. S. Craighead



Distributed delivery models for cancer care have been introduced to bring care closer to home and to provide better access to cancer patients needing radiotherapy. Very little work has been done to demonstrate the elements critical for success in a non-centralized approach. The present study set out to identify the elements that are important for implementing radiotherapy away from large cities.

Methods and Results

This qualitative research project consisted of two separate components. In the first component, structured interviews were conducted with 5 external experts. Input on the expert responses was then sought from internal leaders in medical physics, radiation therapy, and radiation oncology. Those interviews were used to develop a proposed template of the elements needed in a small-city department. We tested the validity of all elements by surveying staff members from the radiation treatment program in Calgary, leading to a definition of the resources needed for the proposed department in Lethbridge. Seventy-five staff members contributed to the survey.


Qualitative research methods allowed us to define important elements for a small-city radiotherapy department and to validate those elements with a large cohort of staff working in a tertiary centre. This work has influenced the planning of a small-city department in Lethbridge, emphasizing the importance of the elements identified to the service planners. We await the completion of the construction project and the opening of the centre so that we can re-evaluate the importance of the identified elements in actual practice. We recommend such an approach to jurisdictions that are considering devolved radiotherapy.


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ISSN: 1198-0052 (Print) ISSN: 1718-7729 (Online)