Cancer Council 13 11 20 Helpline lies at the heart of Australian Cancer Council's information and support services and is a gateway to a myriad of programs providing informational, emotional and practical support. With the growing incidence of cancer in the Australian population, demand for information and support services should be increasing. However there has been a steady decline in the number of calls to 13 11 20.
Research was undertaken to understand the reasons for calling 13 11 20, satisfaction with the service, and barriers to using the Helpline.
A market research company was commissioned to undertake a community attitudes survey of people touched by cancer (n=428) including patients (n=128) and carers (n=300) by phone (84% response rate of identified sample). Key questions included awareness of 13 11 20 Helpline; who referred, awareness of assistance that could be provided by Helpline, and reasons for calling (or not) Helpline.
People affected by cancer reported seeking information mainly through internet (32% of respondents) and doctors (31%). Only 3% of respondents had contacted the Helpline and 11% had sought information on the Cancer Council website in the last 2 years. Most common reasons for not contacting the Helpline was not feeling the need to call, seeking information from doctor or other information sources usually online, and low awareness of the service.
The perception of not wanting or needing help is a barrier preventing calls and there is a need to widen understanding of the information and support that can be provided by the Helpline. Knowing more about what is actually on offer would provide people greater clarity about why to call the service. Strategies that engage medical professionals to recommend people call are required and should be an ongoing focus.