Patients engage in medical tourism when they privately obtain a medical care abroad. Previous research shows that many medical tourists travel abroad with friends and family members who provide support and assistance. Meanwhile, very little is known about this important stakeholder group, referred to here as caregiver-companions. In this article we examine the challenges that can be posed by caregiver-companions and the overall practice of informal caregiving in medical tourism from an industry perspective. Specifically, we report on the findings of interviews conducted with international patient coordinators (IPCs) who work at destination facilities. IPCs come into regular contact with caregiver-companions in their professional positions and thus are ideally suited to comment on trends they have observed among this stakeholder group as well as the challenges they can pose to medical tourists, health workers, and facilities.
We conducted 20 semi-structured interviews with 21 IPCs from 16 different facilities across nine countries. Topics probed in the interviews included caregiver-companion roles, IPCs’ and others’ interaction with caregiver-companions, and potential health and safety risks posed to medical tourists and caregiver-companions. Thematic analysis of the verbatim transcripts was employed.
Although most participants encouraged medical tourists to travel with a caregiver-companion, many challenges associated with caregiver-companions were identified. Three themes best characterize the challenges that emerged: (1) caregiver-companions require time, attention and resources; (2) caregiver-companions can disrupt the provision of quality care; and (3) caregiver-companions can be exposed to risks. IPCs pointed out that caregiver-companions may, for example, have a negative impact on the patient through cost of accompaniment or inadequate care provision. Caregiver-companions may also create unanticipated or extra work for IPCs, as additional clients and by ignoring established organizational rules, routines, and expectations. Furthermore, caregiver-companions may be susceptible to stresses and health and safety risks, which would further deteriorate their own abilities to offer the patient quality care.
Although caregiver-companions can pose challenges to medical tourists, health workers, and medical tourism facilities, they can also assist in enhancing best care and offering meaningful support to medical tourists. If caregiver-companions are open to collaboration with IPCs, and particularly in the form of information sharing, then their experience abroad can be safer and less stressful for themselves and, by extension, for the accompanied patients and facility staff.
Medical tourism; Informal caregiving; International patient coordinators; Patient; International health care
Practice guidelines emphasize the use of exercise and weight reduction as the first line of management for knee osteoarthritis (OA). However, less than half of the people with mild OA participate in moderate intensity physical activity. Given that physical activities have been shown to reduce pain, improve quality of life, and have the potential to reduce the progression of joint damage, many people with OA are missing the benefits of this inexpensive intervention.
The objectives of this study are (1) to develop a behavioral theory-informed Internet intervention called Osteoarthritis Physical Activity & Exercise Net (OPEN) for people with previously undiagnosed knee OA, and (2) to assess the efficacy of the OPEN website for improving physical activity participation through a proof-of-concept study.
OPEN was developed based on the theory of planned behavior. Efficacy of this online intervention is being assessed by an ongoing proof-of-concept, single-blind randomized controlled trial in British Columbia, Canada. We are currently recruiting participants and plan to recruit a total of 252 sedentary people with previously undiagnosed knee OA using a set of validated criteria. Half of the participants will be randomized to use OPEN and receive an OA education pamphlet. The other half only will receive the pamphlet. Participants will complete an online questionnaire at baseline, 3 months, and 6 months about their participation in physical activities, health-related quality of life, and motivational outcomes. In addition, we will perform an aerobic fitness test in a sub-sample of participants (n=20 per study arm). In the primary analysis, we will use logistic regression to compare the proportion of participants reporting being physically active at or above the recommended level in the 2 groups, adjusting for baseline measurement, age, and sex.
This study evaluates a theory-informed behavioral intervention at a time when people affected with OA tend to be more motivated to adopt an active lifestyle (ie, at the early stage of OA). Our approach, which consisted of the identification of early knee OA followed immediately by an online intervention that directly targets physical inactivity, can be easily implemented across communities.
Our online intervention directly targets physical inactivity at a time when the joint damage tends to be mild. If OPEN is found to be effective in changing long-term physical activity behaviors, it opens further opportunities to promote early diagnosis and to implement lifestyle interventions.
Clinicaltrial.gov: NCT01608282; http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01608282 (Archived by WebCite at http://www.webcitation.org/6G7sBBayI)
osteoarthritis physical activity; Internet; lifestyle intervention; theory of planned behavior
Medical tourism involves patients’ intentional travel to privately obtain medical care in another country. Empirical evidence regarding health and safety risks facing medical tourists is limited. Consideration of this issue is dominated by speculation and lacks meaningful input from people with specific expertise in patient health and safety. We consulted with patient health and safety experts in the Canadian province of British Columbia to explore their views concerning risks that medical tourists may be exposed to. Herein, we report on the findings, linking them to existing ethical and legal issues associated with medical tourism.
We held a focus group in September 2011 in Vancouver, British Columbia with professionals representing different domains of patient health and safety expertise. The focus group was transcribed verbatim and analysed thematically.
Seven professionals representing the domains of tissue banking, blood safety, health records, organ transplantation, dental care, clinical ethics and infection control participated.
Five dominant health and safety risks for outbound medical tourists were identified by participants: (1) complications; (2) specific concerns regarding organ transplantation; (3) transmission of antibiotic-resistant organisms; (4) (dis)continuity of medical documentation and (5) (un)informed decision-making.
Concern was expressed that medical tourism might have unintended and undesired effects upon patients’ home healthcare systems. The individual choices of medical tourists could have significant public consequences if healthcare facilities in their home countries must expend resources treating postoperative complications. Participants also expressed concern that medical tourists returning home with infections, particularly antibiotic-resistant infections, could place others at risk of exposure to infections that are refractory to standard treatment regimens and thereby pose significant public health risks.
Medical tourism is a global health practice where patients travel internationally with the intention of receiving medical services. A range of low, middle, and high income countries are encouraging investment in the medical tourism sector, including countries in the Caribbean targeting patients in North America and Europe. While medical tourism has the potential to provide economic and employment opportunities in destination countries, there are concerns that it could encourage the movement of health workers from the public to private health sector.
We present findings from 19 semi-structured interviews with stakeholders across the public health care, private health care, government, allied business, and civil society sectors. These interviews were conducted in-person in Barbados and via phone. The interview transcripts were coded and a thematic analysis developed.
Three themes were identified: 1) Stakeholder perceptions of the patterns and plans for health human resource usage by current and planned medical tourism facilities in Barbados. We found that while health human resource usage in the medical tourism sector has been limited, it is likely to grow in the future; 2) Anticipated positive impacts of medical tourism on health human resources and access to care in the public system. These benefits included improved quality control, training opportunities, and health worker retention; and 3) Anticipated negative impacts of medical tourism on health human resources and access to care in the public system. These impacts included longer wait times for care and a shift in planning priorities driven by the medical tourism sector.
Stakeholders interviewed who were connected to medical tourism expansion or the tourism sector took a generally positive view of the likely impacts of medical tourism on health human resources in Barbados. However, stakeholders associated with the public health system and health equity expressed concern that medical tourism may spread inequities in this country. The mechanisms by which observed negative health equity impacts in other countries will be avoided in Barbados are unclear. Continued study in Barbados and comparison with the regulatory frameworks in other countries is needed to help enhance positive and mitigate negative impacts of medical tourism on health human resources in Barbados. These findings will likely have import for other Caribbean nations investing in medical tourism and beyond.
Most Canadians receive basic health services from a family physician and these physicians are particularly critical in the management of chronic disease. Canada, however, has an endemic shortage of family physicians. Physician shortages and turnover are particularly acute in rural regions, leaving their residents at risk of needing to transition between family physicians. The knowledge base about how patients manage transitioning in a climate of scarcity remains nascent. The purpose of this study is to explore the experience of transitioning for chronically ill, rurally situated Canadian women to provide insight into if and how the system supports transitioning patients and to identify opportunities for enhancing that support.
Chronically ill women managing rheumatic diseases residing in two rural counties in the province of Ontario were recruited to participate in face-to-face, semi-structured interviews. Interview transcripts were analysed thematically to identify emergent themes associated with the transitioning experience.
Seventeen women participated in this study. Ten had experienced transitioning and four with long-standing family physicians anticipated doing so soon. The remaining three expressed concerns about transitioning. Thematic analysis revealed the presence of a transitioning trajectory with three phases. The detachment phase focused on activities related to the termination of a physician-patient relationship, including haphazard notification tactics and the absence of referrals to replacement physicians. For those unable to immediately find a new doctor, there was a phase of unattachment during which patients had to improvise ways to receive care from alternative providers or walk-in clinics. The final phase, attachment, was characterized by acceptance into the practice of a new family physician.
Participants often found transitioning challenging, largely due to perceived gaps in support from the health care system. Barriers to a smooth transition included inadequate notification procedures, lack of formal assistance finding new physicians, and unsatisfactory experiences seeking care during unattachment. The participants’ accounts reveal opportunities for a stronger system presence during transition and a need for further research into alternative models of primary care delivery.
Family medicine; Canada; Unattached patients; Continuity; Attachment; Rural
Medical tourism is the term that describes patients’ international travel with the intention of seeking medical treatment. Some medical tourists go abroad for orthopaedic surgeries, including hip and knee resurfacing and replacement. In this article we examine the findings of interviews with Canadian medical tourists who went abroad for such surgeries to determine what is distinctive about their attitudes when compared to existing qualitative research findings about patients’ decision-making in and experiences of these same procedures in their home countries.
Fourteen Canadian medical tourists participated in semi-structured phone interviews, all of whom had gone abroad for hip or knee surgery to treat osteoarthritis. Transcripts were coded and thematically analysed, which involved comparing emerging findings to those in the existing qualitative literature on hip and knee surgery.
Three distinctive attitudinal characteristics among participants were identified when interview themes were compared to findings in the existing qualitative research on hip and knee surgery in osteoarthritis. These attitudinal characteristics were that the medical tourists we spoke with were: (1) comfortable health-related decision-makers; (2) unwavering in their views about procedure necessity and urgency; and (3) firm in their desires to maintain active lives.
Compared to other patients reported on in the existing qualitative hip and knee surgery literature, medical tourists are less likely to question their need for surgery and are particularly active in their pursuit of surgical intervention. They are also comfortable with taking control of health-related decisions. Future research is needed to identify motivators behind patients’ pursuit of care abroad, determine if the attitudinal characteristics identified here hold true for other patient groups, and ascertain the impact of these attitudinal characteristics on surgical outcomes. Arthritis care providers can use the attitudinal characteristics identified here to better advise osteoarthritis patients who are considering seeking care abroad.
Family (i.e., unpaid) caregiving has long been thought of as a ‘woman’s issue’, which ultimately results not only in gendered, but also financial and health inequities. Because of this, gender-based analyses have been prioritized in caregiving research. However, trends in current feminist scholarship demonstrate that gender intersects with other axes of difference, such as culture, socio-economic status, and geography to create diverse experiences. In this analysis we examine how formal front-line palliative care providers understand the role of such diversities in shaping Canadian family caregivers’ experiences of end-of-life care. In doing so we consider the implications of these findings for a social benefit program aimed at supporting family caregivers, namely the Compassionate Care Benefit (CCB).
This analysis contributes to a utilization-focused evaluation of Canada’s CCB, a social program that provides job security and limited income assistance to Canadian family caregivers who take a temporary leave from employment to provide care for a dying family member at end-of-life. Fifty semi-structured phone interviews with front-line palliative care providers from across Canada were conducted and thematic diversity analysis of the transcripts ensued.
Findings reveal that experiences of caregiving are not homogenous and access to services and supports are not universal across Canada. Five axes of difference were commonly raised by front-line palliative care providers when discussing important differences in family caregivers’ experiences: culture, gender, geography, lifecourse stage, and material resources. Our findings reveal inequities with regard to accessing needed caregiver services and resources, including the CCB, based on these axes of difference.
We contend that without considering diversity, patterns in vulnerability and inequity are overlooked, and thus continually reinforced in health policy. Based on our findings, we demonstrate that re-framing categorizations of caregivers can expose specific vulnerabilities and inequities while identifying implications for the CCB program as it is currently administered. From a policy perspective, this analysis demonstrates why diversity needs to be acknowledged in policy circles, including in relation to the CCB, and seeks to counteract single dimensional approaches for understanding caregiver needs at end-of-life. Such findings illustrate how diversity analysis can dramatically enhance evaluative health policy research.
Diversity; Caregiving; Canada; End-of-life; Qualitative; Compassionate Care Benefit
Primary health care (PHC) encompasses an array of health and social services that focus on preventative, diagnostic, and basic care measures to maintain wellbeing and address illnesses. In Canada, PHC involves the provision of first-contact health care services by providers such as family physicians and general practitioners – collectively referred as PHC physicians here. Ensuring access is a key requirement of effective PHC delivery. This is because having access to PHC has been shown to positively impact a number of health outcomes.
We build on recent innovations in measuring potential spatial access to PHC physicians using geographic information systems (GIS) by running and then interpreting the findings of a modified gravity model. Elsewhere we have introduced the protocol for this model. In this article we run it for five selected Canadian provinces and territories. Our objectives are to present the results of the modified gravity model in order to: (1) understand how potential spatial access to PHC physicians can be interpreted in these Canadian jurisdictions, and (2) provide guidance regarding how findings of the modified gravity model should be interpreted in other analyses.
Regarding the first objective, two distinct spatial patterns emerge regarding potential spatial access to PHC physicians in the five selected Canadian provinces: (1) a clear north–south pattern, where southern areas have greater potential spatial access than northern areas; and (2) while gradients of potential spatial access exist in and around urban areas, access outside of densely-to-moderately populated areas is fairly binary. Regarding the second objective, we identify three principles that others can use to interpret the findings of the modified gravity model when used in other research contexts.
Future applications of the modified gravity model are needed in order to refine the recommendations we provide on interpreting its results. It is important that studies are undertaken that can help administrators, policy-makers, researchers, and others with characterizing the state of access to PHC, including potential spatial access. We encourage further research to be done using GIS in order to offer new, spatial perspectives on issues of access to health services given the increased recognition that the place-based nature of health services can benefit from the use of the capabilities of GIS to enhance the role that visualization plays in decision-making.
Unattached patients do not have a regular primary care provider. Initiatives are being developed to increase attachment rates across Canada. Most existing attention paid to patient unattachment has focused on quantifying the problem and health system costs. Our purpose is to qualitatively identify the implications of chronically ill patients’ experiences of unattachment for health policy and planning to provide policy-relevant insights for Canadian attachment initiatives.
Three focus groups were conducted with marginalized chronically ill individuals residing in a mid-sized city in British Columbia who are unattached to a family doctor. We use the term marginalized as a descriptor to acknowledge that by virtue of their low socio-economic status and lack of attachment the participants are marginalized in Canada’s health care system Focus groups were structured as an open conversation organized around a series of probing questions. They were digitally recorded and transcribed verbatim. Thematic analysis was employed.
Twenty-six individuals participated in the focus groups. The most common chronic illnesses reported were active drug addiction or recovery (and their associated symptoms), depression, arthritis, and hepatitis C. Participants identified life transitions as being the root cause for not having a family doctor. There was a strong sense that unsuccessful attempts to get a family doctor reflected that they were undesirable patients. Participants wanted to experience having a trusting relationship with a regular family doctor as they believed it would encourage greater honesty and transparency. One of the main health concerns regarding lack of access to a regular family doctor is that participants lacked access to preventative care. Participants were also concerned about having a discontinuous medical record due to unattachment.
Participants perceived that there are many benefits to be had by having attachment to a regular family doctor and that experiencing unattachment challenged their health and access to health care. We encourage more research to be done on the lived experience of unattachment in order to provide on-the-ground insights that policy-makers require in order to develop responsive, patient-centred supports and programs.
Medical tourism describes the private purchase and arrangement of medical care by patients across international borders. Increasing numbers of medical facilities in countries around the world are marketing their services to a receptive audience of international patients, a phenomenon that has largely been made possible by the growth of the Internet. The growth of the medical tourism industry has raised numerous concerns around patient safety and global health equity. In spite of these concerns, there is a lack of empirical research amongst medical tourism stakeholders. One such gap is a lack of engagement with medical tourists themselves, where there is currently little known about how medical tourists decide to access care abroad. We address this gap through examining aspects of Canadian medical tourists’ decision-making processes.
Semi-structured phone interviews were administered to 32 Canadians who had gone abroad as medical tourists. Interviews touched on motivations, assessment of risks, information seeking processes, and experiences at home and abroad. A thematic analysis of the interview transcripts followed.
Three overarching themes emerged from the interviews: (1) information sources consulted; (2) motivations, considerations, and timing; and (3) personal and professional supports drawn upon. Patient testimonials and word of mouth connections amongst former medical tourists were accessed and relied upon more readily than the advice of family physicians. Neutral, third-party information sources were limited, which resulted in participants also relying on medical tourism facilitators and industry websites.
While Canadian medical tourists are often thought to be motivated by wait times for surgery, cost and availability of procedures were common primary and secondary motivations for participants, demonstrating that motivations are layered and dynamic. The findings of this analysis offer a number of important factors that should be considered in the development of informational interventions targeting medical tourists. It is likely that trends observed amongst Canadian medical tourists apply to those from other nations due to the key role the transnational medium of the Internet plays in facilitating patients’ private international medical travel.
Medical tourism; Decision-making; Qualitative; Surgery; Canada
Medical tourism, thought of as patients seeking non-emergency medical care outside of their home countries, is a growing industry worldwide. Canadians are amongst those engaging in medical tourism, and many are helped in the process of accessing care abroad by medical tourism brokers - agents who specialize in making international medical care arrangements for patients. As a key source of information for these patients, brokers are likely to play an important role in communicating the risks and benefits of undergoing surgery or other procedures abroad to their clientele. This raises important ethical concerns regarding processes such as informed consent and the liability of brokers in the event that complications arise from procedures. The purpose of this article is to examine the language, information, and online marketing of Canadian medical tourism brokers' websites in light of such ethical concerns.
An exhaustive online search using multiple search engines and keywords was performed to compile a comprehensive directory of English-language Canadian medical tourism brokerage websites. These websites were examined using thematic content analysis, which included identifying informational themes, generating frequency counts of these themes, and comparing trends in these counts to the established literature.
Seventeen websites were identified for inclusion in this study. It was found that Canadian medical tourism broker websites varied widely in scope, content, professionalism and depth of information. Three themes emerged from the thematic content analysis: training and accreditation, risk communication, and business dimensions. Third party accreditation bodies of debatable regulatory value were regularly mentioned on the reviewed websites, and discussion of surgical risk was absent on 47% of the websites reviewed, with limited discussion of risk on the remaining ones. Terminology describing brokers' roles was somewhat inconsistent across the websites. Finally, brokers' roles in follow up care, their prices, and the speed of surgery were the most commonly included business dimensions on the reviewed websites.
Canadian medical tourism brokers currently lack a common standard of care and accreditation, and are widely lacking in providing adequate risk communication for potential medical tourists. This has implications for the informed consent and consequent safety of Canadian medical tourists.
Medical tourism, the intentional pursuit of elective medical treatments in foreign countries, is a rapidly growing global industry. Canadians are among those crossing international borders to seek out privately purchased medical care. Given Canada’s universally accessible, single-payer domestic health care system, important implications emerge from Canadians’ private engagement in medical tourism.
A scoping review was conducted of the popular, academic, and business literature to synthesize what is currently known about Canadian involvement in medical tourism. Of the 348 sources that were reviewed either partly or in full, 113 were ultimately included in the review.
The review demonstrates that there is an extreme paucity of academic, empirical literature examining medical tourism in general or the Canadian context more specifically. Canadians are engaged with the medical tourism industry not just as patients but also as investors and business people. There have been a limited number of instances of Canadians having their medical tourism expenses reimbursed by the public medicare system. Wait times are by far the most heavily cited driver of Canadians’ involvement in medical tourism. However, despite its treatment as fact, there is no empirical research to support or contradict this point.
Although medical tourism is often discussed in the Canadian context, a paucity of data on this practice complicates our understanding of its scope and impact.
The medical tourism industry, which assists patients with accessing non-emergency medical care abroad, has grown rapidly in recent years. A lack of reliable data about medical tourism makes it difficult to create policy, health system, and public health responses to address the associated risks and shortcomings, such as spread of infectious diseases, associated with this industry. This article addresses this knowledge gap by analyzing interviews conducted with Canadian medical tourism facilitators in order to understand Canadian patients' involvement in medical tourism and the implications of this involvement for public health.
Semi-structured phone interviews were conducted with 12 medical facilitators from 10 companies in 2010. An exhaustive recruitment strategy was used to identify interviewees. Questions focused on business dimensions, information exchange, medical tourists' decision-making, and facilitators' roles in medical tourism. Thematic analysis was undertaken following data collection.
Facilitators helped their Canadian clients travel to 11 different countries. Estimates of the number of clients sent abroad annually varied due to demand factors. Facilitators commonly worked with medical tourists aged between 40 and 60 from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds who faced a number of potential barriers including affordability, fear of the unfamiliar, and lack of confidence. Medical tourists who chose not to use facilitators' services were thought to be interested in saving money or have cultural/familial connections to the destination country. Canadian doctors were commonly identified as barriers to securing clients.
No effective Canadian public health response to medical tourism can treat medical tourists as a unified group with similar motivations for engaging in medical tourism and choosing similar mechanisms for doing so. This situation may be echoed in other countries with patients seeking care abroad. Therefore, a call for a comprehensive public health response to medical tourism and its effects should be coupled with a clear understanding that medical tourism is a highly diverse practice. This response must also acknowledge facilitators as important stakeholders in medical tourism.
An increasingly significant public health issue in Canada, and elsewhere throughout the developed world, pertains to the provision of adequate palliative/end-of-life (P/EOL) care. Informal caregivers who take on the responsibility of providing P/EOL care often experience negative physical, mental, emotional, social and economic consequences. In this article, we specifically examine how Canada's Compassionate Care Benefit (CCB) - a contributory benefits social program aimed at informal P/EOL caregivers - operates as a public health response in sustaining informal caregivers providing P/EOL care, and whether or not it adequately addresses known aspects of caregiver burden that are addressed within the population health promotion (PHP) model.
As part of a national evaluation of Canada's Compassionate Care Benefit, 57 telephone interviews were conducted with Canadian informal P/EOL caregivers in 5 different provinces, pertaining to the strengths and weaknesses of the CCB and the general caregiving experience. Interview data was coded with Nvivo software and emerging themes were identified by the research team, with such findings published elsewhere. The purpose of the present analysis was identified after comparing the findings to the literature specific to caregiver burden and public health, after which data was analyzed using the PHP model as a guiding framework.
Informal caregivers spoke to several of the determinants of health outlined in the PHP model that are implicated in their burden experience: gender, income and social status, working conditions, health and social services, social support network, and personal health practises and coping strategies. They recognized the need for improving the CCB to better address these determinants.
This study, from the perspective of family caregivers, demonstrates that the CCB is not living up to its full potential in sustaining informal P/EOL caregivers. Effort is required to transform the CCB so that it may fulfill the potential it holds for serving as one public health response to caregiver burden that forms part of a healthy public policy that addresses the determinants of this burden.
Medical tourism is a global health practice where patients travel abroad to receive health care. Voluntourism is a practice where physicians travel abroad to deliver health care. Both of these practices often entail travel from high income to low and middle income countries and both have been associated with possible negative impacts. In this paper, we explore the social responsibilities of medical tourists and voluntourists to identify commonalities and distinctions that can be used to develop a wider understanding of social responsibility in global health care practices.
Social responsibility is a responsibility to promote the welfare of the communities to which one belongs or with which one interacts. Physicians stress their social responsibility to care for the welfare of their patients and their domestic communities. When physicians choose to travel to another county to provide medical care, this social responsibility is expanded to this new community. Patients too have a social responsibility to use their community's health resources efficiently and to promote the health of their community. When these patients choose to go abroad to receive medical care, this social responsibility applies to the new community as well. While voluntourists and medical tourists both see the scope of their social responsibilities expand by engaging in these global practices, the social responsibilities of physician voluntourists are much better defined than those of medical tourists. Guidelines for engaging in ethical voluntourism and training for voluntourists still need better development, but medical tourism as a practice should follow the lead of voluntourism by developing clearer norms for ethical medical tourism.
Much can be learned by examining the social responsibilities of medical tourists and voluntourists when they engage in global health practices. While each group needs better guidance for engaging in responsible forms of these practices, patients are at a disadvantage in understanding the effects of medical tourism and organizing responses to these impacts. Members of the medical professions and the medical tourism industry must take responsibility for providing better guidance for medical tourists.
Medical tourism involves patients intentionally leaving their home country to access non-emergency health care services abroad. Growth in the popularity of this practice has resulted in a significant amount of attention being given to it from researchers, policy-makers, and the media. Yet, there has been little effort to systematically synthesize what is known about the effects of this phenomenon. This article presents the findings of a scoping review examining what is known about the effects of medical tourism in destination and departure countries.
Drawing on academic articles, grey literature, and media sources extracted from18 databases, we follow a widely used scoping review protocol to synthesize what is known about the effects of medical tourism in destination and departure countries. The review design has three main stages: (1) identifying the question and relevant literature; (2) selecting the literature; and (3) charting, collating, and summarizing the data.
The large majority of the 203 sources accepted into the review offer a perspective of medical tourism from the Global North, focusing on the flow of patients from high income nations to lower and middle income countries. This greatly shapes any discussion of the effects of medical tourism on destination and departure countries. Five interrelated themes that characterize existing discussion of the effects of this practice were extracted from the reviewed sources. These themes frame medical tourism as a: (1) user of public resources; (2) solution to health system problems; (3) revenue generating industry; (4) standard of care; and (5) source of inequity. It is observed that what is currently known about the effects of medical tourism is minimal, unreliable, geographically restricted and mostly based on speculation.
Given its positive and negative effects on the health care systems of departure and destination countries, medical tourism is a highly significant and contested phenomenon. This is especially true given its potential to serve as a powerful force for the inequitable delivery of health care services globally. It is recommended that empirical evidence and other data associated with medical tourism be subjected to clear and coherent definitions, including reports focused on the flows of medical tourists and surgery success rates. Additional primary research on the effects of medical tourism is needed if the industry is to develop in a manner that is beneficial to citizens of both departure and destination countries.
Medical tourism is understood as travel abroad with the intention of obtaining non-emergency medical services. This practice is the subject of increasing interest, but little is known about its scope.
A comprehensive scoping review of published academic articles, media sources, and grey literature reports was performed to answer the question: what is known about the patient's experience of medical tourism? The review was accomplished in three steps: (1) identifying the question and relevant literature; (2) selecting the literature; (3) charting, collating, and summarizing the information. Overall themes were identified from this process.
291 sources were identified for review from the databases searched, the majority of which were media pieces (n = 176). A further 57 sources were included for review after hand searching reference lists. Of the 348 sources that were gathered, 216 were ultimately included in this scoping review. Only a small minority of sources reported on empirical studies that involved the collection of primary data (n = 5). The four themes identified via the review were: (1) decision-making (e.g., push and pull factors that operate to shape patients' decisions); (2) motivations (e.g., procedure-, cost-, and travel-based factors motivating patients to seek care abroad); (3) risks (e.g., health and travel risks); and (4) first-hand accounts (e.g., patients' experiential accounts of having gone abroad for medical care). These themes represent the most discussed issues about the patient's experience of medical tourism in the English-language academic, media, and grey literatures.
This review demonstrates the need for additional research on numerous issues, including: (1) understanding how multiple information sources are consulted and evaluated by patients before deciding upon medical tourism; (2) examining how patients understand the risks of care abroad; (3) gathering patients' prospective and retrospective accounts; and (4) the push and pull factors, as well as the motives of patients to participate in medical tourism. The findings from this scoping review and the knowledge gaps it uncovered also demonstrate that there is great potential for new contributions to our understanding of the patient's experience of medical tourism.
An aging population, rise in chronic illnesses, increase in life expectancy and shift towards care being provided at the community level are trends that are collectively creating an urgency to advance hospice palliative care (HPC) planning and provision in Canada. The purpose of this study was to analyze the evolution of HPC in seven provinces in Canada so as to inform such planning and provision elsewhere. We have endeavoured to undertake this research out of awareness that good future planning for health and social care, such as HPC, typically requires us to first look backwards before moving forward.
To identify key policy and practice events in HPC in Canada, as well as describe facilitators of and barriers to progress, a qualitative comparative case study design was used. Specifically, the evolution and development of HCP in 7 strategically selected provinces is compared. After choosing the case study provinces, the grey literature was searched to create a preliminary timeline for each that described the evolution of HPC beginning in 1970. Key informants (n = 42) were then interviewed to verify the content of each provincial timeline and to discuss barriers and facilitators to the development of HPC. Upon completion of the primary data collection, a face-to-face meeting of the research team was then held so as to conduct a comparative study analysis that focused on provincial commonalities and differences.
Findings point to the fact that HPC continues to remain at the margins of the health care system. The development of HPC has encountered structural inheritances that have both sped up progress as well as slowed it down. These structural inheritances are: (1) foundational health policies (e.g., the Canada Health Act); (2) service structures and planning (e.g., the dominance of urban-focused initiatives); and (3) health system decisions (e.g., regionalization). As a response to these inheritances, circumventions of the established system of care were taken, often out of necessity. Three kinds of circumventions were identified from the data: (1) interventions to shift the system (e.g., the role of advocacy); (2) service innovations (e.g., educational initiatives); and (3) new alternative structures (e.g., the establishment of independent hospice organizations). Overall, the evolution of HPC across the case study provinces has been markedly slow, but steady and continuous.
HPC in Canada remains at the margins of the health care system. Its integration into the primary health care system may ensure dedicated and ongoing funding, enhanced access, quality and service responsiveness. Though demographics are expected to influence HPC demand in Canada, our study confirms that concerned citizens, advocacy organizations and local champions will continue to be the agents of change that make the necessary and lasting impacts on HPC in Canada.
The availability of patient information to practitioners forms the basis of informational continuity of care. Changes in family practice that now encourage multiphysician clinics have meant that informational continuity of care has become crucial because it is likely that a patient will not continuously see the same doctor. Therefore a review of the nature of informational continuity is useful.
To answer the question ‘How is informational continuity developed in general practice?’.
Design of study
A rigorous systematic review of relevant electronic databases.
Databases were searched for articles answering the research question. Articles focused on family medicine and informational continuity of care were included. Data from reviewed articles were independently extracted and reviewed by two researchers. Conceptual and evidence-based articles were included.
Initially, 193 articles were obtained from all five bibliographic databases; 57 were retained following title and abstract review. Of these, 34 articles were included in the final systematic review. Results show that informational continuity of care is developed using paper/electronic records and remembered information collectively, through a series of doctor–patient consultations over time. Obstacles to its development are practitioners not recording patient information and patients not disclosing important details.
These findings have implications for newer styles of primary care that may have a negative impact in the successful management of chronic illnesses in particular.
continuity of care; information management; medical records; primary health care
As the populations of many developed nations continue to age at rapid rates it is becoming increasingly important to enhance palliative care service delivery in order to meet anticipated demand. Rural areas face a number of challenges in doing this, and thus dedicated attention must be given to determining how to best enhance service delivery in ways that are sensitive to their particular needs. The purposes of this article are to determine the vision for establishing secondary palliative care service hubs (SPCH) in rural communities through undertaking a case study, and to ascertain the criteria that need to be considered when siting such hubs.
A rural region of British Columbia, Canada was selected for primary data collection, which took place over a five-month period in 2008. Formal and informal palliative care providers (n = 31) were interviewed. A purposeful recruitment strategy was used to maximize occupational and practice diversity. Interviews were conducted by phone using a semi-structured guide. Interviews were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim. Data were managed using NVivo8™ software and analyzed thematically, using investigator triangulation to strengthen interpretation.
Four themes emerged from the dataset: (1) main SPCH features; (2) determining a location; (3) value-added outcomes; and (4) key considerations. It was found that participants generally supported implementing a SPCH in the rural region of focus. Several consistent messages emerged, including that: (1) SPCHs must create opportunities for two-way information exchange between specialists and generalists and communities; (2) SPCHs should diffuse information and ideas throughout the region, thus serving as a locus for education and a means of enhancing training opportunities; and (3) hubs need not be physical sites in the community (e.g., an office in a hospice or hospital), but may be virtual or take other forms based upon local needs.
Visioning innovation in the provision of palliative care service in rural communities can be enhanced by consultation with local providers. Interviews are a means of determining local concerns and priorities. There was widespread support for SPCH coupled with some uncertainty about means of implementation.
Pedestrian injury frequently results in devastating and costly injuries and accounts for 11% of all road user fatalities. In the United States in 2006 there were 4,784 fatalities and 61,000 injuries from pedestrian injury, and in 2007 there were 4,654 fatalities and 70,000 injuries. In Canada, injury is the leading cause of death for those under 45 years of age and the fourth most common cause of death for all ages Traumatic pedestrian injury results in nearly 4000 hospitalizations in Canada annually. These injuries result from the interplay of modifiable environmental factors. The objective of this study was to determine links between the built environment and pedestrian injury hotspots in Vancouver.
Data were obtained from the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) for the 6 year period from 2000 to 2005 and combined with pedestrian injury data extracted from the British Columbia Trauma Registry (BCTR) for the same period. High incident locations (hotspots) for pedestrian injury in the City of Vancouver were identified and mapped using geographic information systems (GIS), and the characteristics of the built environment at each of the hotspot locations were examined by a team of researchers.
The analysis highlighted 32 pedestrian injury hotspot locations in Vancouver. 31 of 32 hotspots were situated on major roads. Likewise, the majority of hotspots were located on downtown streets. The 'downtown eastside' was identified as an area with multiple high-incident locations, including the 2 highest ranked pedestrian injury hotspots. Bars were present at 21 of the hotspot locations, with 11 of these locations being judged to have high alcohol establishment density.
This study highlighted the disproportionate burden of pedestrian injury centred on the downtown eastside area of Vancouver. The environmental scan revealed that important passive pedestrian safety countermeasures were only present at a minority of high-incident locations. More importantly, bars were highly associated with risk of pedestrian injury. This study is the basis for potential public health intervention by clearly indicating optimal locations for signalized pedestrian crosswalks.
Central to establishing continuity of care is the development of a relationship between doctor and patient/caregiver. Transfer of information between these parties facilitates the development of continuity in general; and specifically informational continuity of care. We conducted a systematic review of published literature to gain a better understanding of the roles that different parties – specifically doctors, patients, family caregivers, and technology – play in establishing and maintaining informational continuity of care within family practice.
Relevant published articles were sought from five databases. Accepted articles were reviewed and appraised in a consistent way. Fifty-six articles were retained following title and abstract reviews. Of these, 28 were accepted for this review.
No articles focused explicitly on the roles involved in establishing or maintaining informational continuity of care within family practice. Most informational continuity of care literature focused on the transfer of information between settings and not at the first point of contact. Numerous roles were, however, were interpreted using the data extracted from reviewed articles. Doctors are responsible for record keeping, knowing patients' histories, recalling accumulated knowledge, and maintaining confidentiality. Patients are responsible for disclosing personal and health details, transferring information to other practitioners (including new family doctors), and establishing trust. Both are responsible for developing a relationship of trust. Technology is an important tool of informational continuity of care through holding important information, providing search functions, and providing a space for recorded information. There is a significant gap in our knowledge about the roles that family caregivers play.
The number of roles identified and the interrelationships between them indicates that establishing and maintaining informational continuity of care within family practice is a complex and multifaceted process. This synthesis of roles provided serves as an important resource for continuity of care researchers in general, for the development of continuity of care quality indicators, and for the practice of family medicine.
The goal of Canada's Compassionate Care Benefit (CCB) is to enable family members and other loved ones who are employed to take a temporary secured leave to care for a terminally ill individual at end of life. Successful applicants of the CCB can receive up to 55% of their average insured earnings, up to a maximum of CDN$435 per week, over a six week period to provide care for a gravely ill family member at risk of death within a six month period, as evidenced by a medical certificate. The goal of this study is to evaluate the CCB from the perspective of family caregivers providing care to individuals at end of life. There are three specific research objectives. Meeting these objectives will address our study purpose which is to make policy-relevant recommendations informed by the needs of Canadian family caregivers and input from other key stakeholders who shape program uptake. Being the first study that will capture family caregivers' experiences and perceptions of the CCB and gather contextual data with front-line palliative care practitioners, employers, and human resources personnel, we will be in a unique position to provide policy solutions/recommendations that will address concerns raised by numerous individuals and organizations.
We will achieve the research goal and objectives through employing utilization-focused evaluation as our methodology, in-depth interviews and focus groups as our techniques of data collection, and constant comparative as our technique of data analysis. Three respondent groups will participate: (1) family caregivers who are providing or who have provided end of life care via phone interview; (2) front-line palliative care practitioners via phone interview; and (3) human resources personnel and employers via focus group. Each of these three groups has a stake in the successful administration of the CCB. A watching brief of policy documents, grey literature, media reports, and other relevant items will also be managed throughout data collection.
We propose to conduct this study over a three year period beginning in October, 2006 and ending in October, 2009.