Practice patterns of radiation therapy technology in Australia: results of a national audit
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Introduction: This article presents the results of a single-day census of radiation therapy (RT) treatment and technology use in Australia. The primary aim of the study was to ascertain patterns of RT practice and technology in use across Australia. These data were primarily collated to inform curriculum development of academic programs, thereby ensuring that training is matched to workforce patterns of practice. Methods: The study design was a census method with all 59 RT centres in Australia being invited to provide quantitative summary data relating to patient case mix and technology use on a randomly selected but common date. Anonymous and demographic-free data were analysed using descriptive statistics. Results: Overall data were provided across all six Australian States by 29 centres of a possible 59, yielding a response rate of 49% and representing a total of 2743 patients. Findings from this study indicate the increasing use of emerging intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT), image fusion and image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT) technology in Australian RT planning and delivery phases. IMRT in particular was used for 37% of patients, indicating a high uptake of the technology in Australia when compared to other published data. The results also highlight the resource-intensive nature of benign tumour radiotherapy. Conclusions: In the absence of routine national data collection, the single-day census method offers a relatively convenient means of measuring and tracking RT resource utilisation. Wider use of this tool has the potential to not only track trends in technology implementation but also inform evidence-based guidelines for referral and resource planning.
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