For Dr Vanessa Brunelli, research means the ability to develop a better understanding of the needs and wants of lung cancer patients within her care.
Dr Vanessa Brunelli PhD is a Research Fellow in Lung Cancer at the Queensland University of Technology. Since moving from her clinical positions in both the public and private oncology settings into a full-time research career, Dr Brunelli’s research focus centres on improving the disease experience for people living with lung cancer, particularly through strategic cross-sector initiatives that aim to inform cancer nursing workforce policy. Although a rare occurrence, I love to go camping with my husband and two dogs. Camping is the ultimate holiday for us, and the more rural and remote, the better. Campfires, star gazing, red wine and happy dogs, there’s nothing better.
The issue being addressed
In Australia, there are as few as 12 full-time equivalent specialist lung cancer nurses, compared to over 440 specialist breast cancer nurses. Research shows that people who have access to a specialist nurse are 34%
more likely to receive treatment than those who do not. Specialist lung cancer nurses also increase timely access to treatment and anti-cancer therapy, and improve health-related quality of life for people
living with lung cancer. Despite this, there is limited investment to increase this work-force capacity. The key challenge to date is the limited consistent
evidence on the specialist lung cancer nurse role and practices in the Australian context.
Purpose of the research
Dr Brunelli’s research project is a vital step towards improving access to life-changing care for Australians living with lung cancer. She is working with nurses, medical and allied health experts and consumer advocates
across the nation to develop critical, consistent evidence about the role and core supportive-care practices of specialist lung cancer nurses. An expectations, standards and performance practice framework, developed
and piloted by Dr Brunelli in discrete nursing contexts, provides the digital tool to collect specialist lung cancer nurse activity across the clinical pathway. This evidence will inform future large-scale projects which
will implement and evaluate the role of these nurses in the Australian healthcare system. This research will provide the evidence required for investment to increase the work-force capacity, ensuring people receive
the timely, coordinated and continuous care they deserve.
Dr Brunelli hopes that in the future every person diagnosed with lung cancer will be referred to a specialist lung cancer nurse at the time of their diagnosis.
Why invest in lung cancer research?
Despite the burden of disease, research dollars in lung cancer are remarkably low compared to other cancers. People living with lung cancer deserve better. Nurse-led research contributes to the evidencebase around the quality of care that patients receive which will ultimately improve outcomes. Investing in research changes the way patients are supported and will ultimately change people’s lives.
“It’s my hope that this research will allow all people living with lung cancer to receive timely, coordinated and continuous care by a dedicated specialist lung cancer nurse. People living with lung cancer deserve the same support and opportunities as those impacted by other commonly diagnosed cancers.”