Dr Vanessa Brunelli

Queensland University of Technology

This award was made possible thanks to fundraising from the annual Shine a Light on Lung Cancer campaign.

“This funding grant acknowledges the importance and value of nurse-led research. It also generates a great sense of achievement and hope, and not just for me but for people in our community living with lung cancer, as it was in part the united voice of the community who advocated to decision-makers on the need for and importance of the research. It’s my hope that this program of this research will facilitate specialist lung cancer nursing care to all people living with lung cancer in Australia”.

Dr Vanessa Brunelli

Dr Vanessa Brunelli was the recipient of the inaugural Shine a Light on Lung Cancer Early Career Nursing Fellowship in Lung Cancer Research – a grant to focus on supportive care research to reduce the impact of lung cancer and improve outcomes for those affected. Her project, Expectations, Standards and Performance Framework to Evidence the Role and Practices of the Australian Specialist Lung Cancer Nurse, is a vital step to improving access to life-changing care.

In Australia, there are as few as twelve full-time equivalent specialist lung cancer nurses (SLCNs), compared to approximately 440 specialist breast cancer nurses. This means that the majority of people living with a lung cancer diagnosis will not experience the involvement of a SLCN in their care. This is despite evidence that demonstrates that SLCNs can increase timely access to treatment, can increase receipt of anti-cancer therapy and can improve health-related quality of life for people living with lung cancer. The key challenge to date is the limited consistent evidence on the SLCN role and practices in the Australian context.

Vanessa is working with nursing, medical and allied health experts and consumer advocates to develop new, consistent evidence on the role and core supportive care practices of SLCNs in the Australian lung cancer context. An expectations, standards and performance practice framework, developed and piloted by Vanessa in discrete nursing contexts, provides the digital tool to collect SLCN activity across the clinical pathway.  

All people living with this complex and burdensome disease deserve to experience the support and benefits similar to others who report the involvement of a specialist cancer nurse in their pathway. However, this will not happen until we have nationally-relevant evidence that demonstrates the critical role of SLCNs. The knowledge generated from Vanessa’s research will inform future large-scale projects, the goal of which will be to implement and evaluate specialist lung cancer nursing positions in the Australian health care system.