Queenslanders needed for study into law at end of life

Queenslanders are being urged to take part in an Australian-first study to better understand community engagement with law at the end of life.

The study, led by QUT and CCQ, is the first attempt to assess whether Australians understand and/or act upon their legal right to participate in decisions about medical treatment for themselves, or for their loved ones at the end of life.  

Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said the study needed input from both cancer patients and family members.

“Australian law requires that informed consent about medical treatment be given prior to treatment, and that patients participate in decisions about their healthcare,” Ms Clift said.

“However, there are major barriers to this kind of participation, particularly at the end of life.

“Making crucial decisions, such as continuing aggressive treatment or entering palliative care, requires knowledge and understanding from patients and carers about their legal rights.

“This project seeks to understand the community’s knowledge of law at the end of life, and how that affects the ability of patients and their families to make decisions about treatment.

“The study will address a significant issue of access to justice for a vulnerable group of patients at a time of immense stress, within a complex health system.

“We’re asking for patients and families affected to take part in our study, to improve understanding of medical decision-making, including what support would assist Australians in making complex decisions.”

Adult cancer patients with a diagnosis of terminal cancer, and adult family members (including bereaved family members) of adults with terminal cancer are invited to take part in the national study.

Queenslanders can find out more by contacting Dr Rachel Feeney at QUT on 3365 2505, or rachel.feeney@qut.edu.au.

“Cancer Council works hard to support all Queenslanders affected by all cancers, throughout every stage of the cancer journey,” Ms Clift said.

“If you or a loved one needs support or a listening ear, please call 13 11 20 – our cancer information and support line.”

Around 26,000 Queenslanders are diagnosed with cancer each year, and about 8600 die from the disease.

More information about Cancer Council Queensland is available at www.cancerqld.org.au or Cancer Council’s 13 11 20.


For more information or interviews, please contact:

Katie Clift, Executive Manager, Media and Spokesperson, Cancer Council Queensland

Ph: (07) 3634 5372