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Melinda Minstrell

Melinda Minstrell

PhD Candidate



  • B.A. Human Biology, Stanford University, California USA
  • PhD Candidate, University of Tasmania
    Recipient of The Cancer Council Tasmania Postgraduate Research Scholarship

Current study

Diversity in rural supportive cancer care: Specialist Breast Nursing Approaches
This research focuses on the potential of Specialist Breast Nurse (SBN) roles as an innovative, evidence-based strategy for providing high-quality supportive cancer care to people in rural communities.

SBN care is considered best practice for women with breast cancer. International research supports the effectiveness of SBN care in minimising the negative psychosocial impact of breast cancer, through improved coordination of care, information provision, supportive care and communication. Patient-centred care is a trademark of SBN roles, and they attract strong consumer support as a result.

Role implementation is extensive in the United Kingdom and metropolitan Australia, yet there is little consistency between models or information on rural approaches. An urban SBN model that integrates previous international research findings was showcased in Australia through a demonstration project. However, it remains to be seen whether this model can be successfully 'transplanted' to rural communities.

This research project examines the work of five SBNs based in three regions of the rural state of Tasmania. The methodology takes a "whole of nursing view" by comprehensively researching the nursing approach in a naturalistic setting. It utilises both qualitative and quantitative approaches to data collection, focusing on the correlation of SBN activities with patients' supportive care needs. It also seeks to emphasise diversity by highlighting different ways in which the urban SBN model may be adapted to suit the local context of rural communities. Results will inform the implementation of supportive cancer care approaches in rural areas to effectively meet patients' needs.

Research Interests

  • Health services research
  • Translating evidence into practice
  • Implementation of best practice


  • Minstrell M, Winzenberg T, Rankin N, Hughes C, & Walker J. 'Supportive care of rural women with breast cancer in Tasmania, Australia: Changing needs over time', Psycho-Oncology , in press.
  • Hobday A & Minstrell M. 2006, 'Speed kills: mitigating roadkill in Tasmania' The Tasmanian Conservationist, 304 February 2006.
  • Minstrell, M. 2004. Strengthening Support for Women with Breast Cancer, Report on the Tasmanian Project 2001 - 2004. Hobart Tasmania, The Cancer Council Tasmania: 38.
  • Campbell D, Rankin N, Luxford K, Redman S, Minstrell M, & Ramsden M. 2003, 'The challenge of developing and evaluating local programs in breast cancer care: the Strengthening Support for Women with Breast Cancer program.' Rural and Remote Health Papers 1991-2003(CD-ROM). Canberra: National Rural Health Alliance.

Academic Seminars

  • Minstrell, M. Half-way through: looking back and looking forward, Centre for Rural Health Research Retreat, June 2006, Launceston.
  • Minstrell, M., Walker, J & C Cook. Exploring rural health services to inform practice, University Faculty of Health Sciences Research Day, June 2004, Hobart.
  • Minstrell, M. Understanding our aims in pursuit of Higher Research Degree, Centre for Rural Health Student Retreat, April 2004, Hobart.
  • Minstrell, M. Professional Cancer Services: Evaluation of Specialist Breast Nurse Models, Centre for Rural Health Student Conference, 2002, Campbell Town.

Research and Community Grants (since 2003)

Australian Better Health Initiative $210,000
Community Support Levy $99,976
The Cancer Council Tasmania $82,000
Sport and Recreation Tasmania $22,500
Department of Health and Human Services $12,871
Premier's Physical Activity Council $6,000
National Breast Cancer Centre $2,000