Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (College of Nursing)

Schools and Centres

Nursing and Midwifery

First Supervisor

Associate Professor Kylie Russell

Second Supervisor

Doctor Dianne Juliff


The incidence, mortality, survival, and impact of cancer on the Australian health system and community highlight the need for Australian medical schools to adequately prepare medical student to care for patients with cancer. Several studies have shown that Australian medical students are ill-prepared to care for cancer patients upon graduation. At a national level, oncology and palliative care curricula have been developed. However, it is unclear as to the level of uptake of either curricula within Australian medical schools. There remains a lack of consensus on what content to include in a cancer curriculum and how best to deliver such a curriculum.

This thesis presents a multiphase mixed methods approach in the development of a cancer education framework for Australian medical schools, utilising a participatory curriculum design model.

A review of nationally produced cancer curriculum, was undertaken by local caner clinicians via survey and panel sessions to establish the key knowledge required by Australian medical students upon graduation.

This data and a review of the international literature on cancer education relevant for medical students shaped the development of an overarching framework which was designed to facilitate the implementation of cancer education within existing medical school curricula. The framework comprises three sections: one focusing on clinical exposure to cancer patients whilst the other two focus on the principles of cancer management and cancer-specific knowledge that underpin current cancer and palliative care management.

The framework was reviewed and endorsed by national and international participants as being well organised, appropriate for medical students to obtain prior to graduation and relevant to their practice as interns and junior doctors. The framework was viewed as being adaptable to existing medical curricula.

Implications of the research findings and recommendations for implementation and further research are provided.

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Nursing Commons