Geography, Department of

Receive updates for this collection

“I Knew What Was Going To Happen If I Did Nothing and So I Was Going To Do Something”: Faith, Hope, and Trust In The Decisions Of Canadians With Multiple Sclerosis To Seek Unproven Interventions Abroad

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2014
Abstract: 

Background

Chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI) treatment is an unproven intervention aimed at relieving some of the symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS). Despite limited evidence of the efficacy and safety of this intervention, Canadians diagnosed with MS have been traveling abroad to access this procedure as it is not available domestically outside of limited clinical trials. This paper discusses the experiences of Canadians with MS seeking CCSVI treatment abroad.

Methods

This paper presents a secondary analysis of 15 interviews with participants who had gone abroad for CCSVI treatment. Interviews were conducted over the phone between October 2012 and December 2012. All interviews were digitally recorded and transcribed verbatim. Transcripts were hand coded for: 1) why CCSVI treatment was sought and where it was obtained; 2) the role of having hope for a cure in seeking CCSVI; 3) the impact of MS on everyday life; and 4) the role other people played in the decision to go abroad.

Results

The authors identified loss of faith, hope, and trust as themes emerging from the transcripts. The participants experienced a loss of faith with the Canadian health system and especially the neurologists who were responsible for their care and the classification of MS as a neurological disease. Access to CCSVI treatment abroad generated hope in these participants, but they were cautious in their expectations, focusing on symptom management rather than a cure. Trust in their caregivers abroad was generated through the recommendations of other MS sufferers and the credentials of their caregivers abroad.

Conclusions

By deciding to seek an unproven intervention abroad, these individuals took on responsibility for their care from the Canadian health system. While evidence of the efficacy of CCSVI treatment is limited, the participants felt that they were making a rational care decision, focusing on the empowerment and renewed hope generated by seeking this intervention. Health professionals and policy makers globally should consider the causes of loss of faith in their domestic care systems and balance the benefits of empowerment and renewed hope against concerns that unproven interventions may create new health risks.

Document type: 
Article
File(s): 

An Intersectionality-Based Policy Analysis Framework: Critical Reflections on a Methodology for Advancing Equity

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2014
Abstract: 

Introduction

In the field of health, numerous frameworks have emerged that advance understandings of the differential impacts of health policies to produce inclusive and socially just health outcomes. In this paper, we present the development of an important contribution to these efforts – an Intersectionality-Based Policy Analysis (IBPA) Framework.

Methods

Developed over the course of two years in consultation with key stakeholders and drawing on best and promising practices of other equity-informed approaches, this participatory and iterative IBPA Framework provides guidance and direction for researchers, civil society, public health professionals and policy actors seeking to address the challenges of health inequities across diverse populations. Importantly, we present the application of the IBPA Framework in seven priority health-related policy case studies.

Results

The analysis of each case study is focused on explaining how IBPA: 1) provides an innovative structure for critical policy analysis; 2) captures the different dimensions of policy contexts including history, politics, everyday lived experiences, diverse knowledges and intersecting social locations; and 3) generates transformative insights, knowledge, policy solutions and actions that cannot be gleaned from other equity-focused policy frameworks.

Conclusion

The aim of this paper is to inspire a range of policy actors to recognize the potential of IBPA to foreground the complex contexts of health and social problems, and ultimately to transform how policy analysis is undertaken.

Document type: 
Article
File(s): 

Population-Based Incidence Trends of Oropharyngeal and Oral Cavity Cancers by Sex among the Poorest and Underprivileged Populations

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2014
Abstract: 

Background

Oral cancer is an important health issue, with changing incidence in many countries. Oropharyngeal cancer (OPC, in tonsil and oropharygeal areas) is increasing, while oral cavity cancer (OCC, other sites in the mouth) is decreasing. There is the need to identify high risk groups and communities for further study and intervention. The objective of this study was to determine how the incidence of OPC and OCC varied by neighbourhood socioeconomic status (SES) in British Columbia (BC), including the magnitude of any inequalities and temporal trends.

Methods

ICDO-3 codes were used to identify OPC and OCC cases in the BC Cancer Registry from 1981–2010. Cases were categorized by postal codes into SES quintiles (q1-q5) using VANDIX, which is a census-based, multivariate weighted index based on neighbourhood average household income, housing tenure, educational attainment, employment and family structure. Age-standardized incidence rates were determined for OPC and OCC by sex and SES quintiles and temporal trends were then examined.

Results

Incidence rates are increasing in both men and women for OPC, and decreasing in men and increasing in women for OCC. This change is not linear or proportionate between different SES quintiles, for there is a sharp and dramatic increase in incidence according to the deprivation status of the neighbourhood. The highest incidence rates in men for both OPC and OCC were observed in the most deprived SES quintile (q5), at 1.7 times and 2.2 times higher, respectively, than men in the least deprived quintile (q1). For OPC, the age-adjusted incidence rates significantly increased in all SES quintiles with the highest increase observed in the most deprived quintile (q5). Likewise, the highest incidence rates for both OPC and OCC in women were observed in the most deprived SES quintile (q5), at 2.1 times and 1.8 times higher, respectively, than women in the least deprived quintile (q1).

Conclusion

We report on SES disparities in oral cancer, emphasizing the need for community-based interventions that address access to medical care and the distribution of educational and health promotion resources among the most SES deprived communities in British Columbia.

Document type: 
Article
File(s): 

Modeling the Distribution of Geodia Sponges and Sponge Grounds in the Northwest Atlantic

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2013
Abstract: 

Deep-sea sponge grounds provide structurally complex habitat for fish and invertebrates and enhance local biodiversity. They are also vulnerable to bottom-contact fisheries and prime candidates for Vulnerable Marine Ecosystem designation and related conservation action. This study uses species distribution modeling, based on presence and absence observations of Geodia spp. and sponge grounds derived from research trawl catches, as well as spatially continuous data on the physical and biological ocean environment derived from satellite data and oceanographic models, to model the distribution of Geodia sponges and sponge grounds in the Northwest Atlantic. Most models produce excellent fits with validation data although fits are reduced when models are extrapolated to new areas, especially when oceanographic regimes differ between areas. Depth and minimum bottom salinity were important predictors in most models, and a Geodia spp. minimum bottom salinity tolerance threshold in the 34.3-34.8 psu range was hypothesized on the basis of model structure. The models indicated two currently unsampled regions within the study area, the deeper parts of Baffin Bay and the Newfoundland and Labrador slopes, where future sponge grounds are most likely to be found.

Document type: 
Article
File(s): 

Analyzing The Impact Of Social Factors On Homelessness: A Fuzzy Cognitive Map Approach

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2013
Abstract: 

Background

The forces which affect homelessness are complex and often interactive in nature. Social forces such as addictions, family breakdown, and mental illness are compounded by structural forces such as lack of available low-cost housing, poor economic conditions, and insufficient mental health services. Together these factors impact levels of homelessness through their dynamic relations. Historic models, which are static in nature, have only been marginally successful in capturing these relationships.

Methods

Fuzzy Logic (FL) and fuzzy cognitive maps (FCMs) are particularly suited to the modeling of complex social problems, such as homelessness, due to their inherent ability to model intricate, interactive systems often described in vague conceptual terms and then organize them into a specific, concrete form (i.e., the FCM) which can be readily understood by social scientists and others. Using FL we converted information, taken from recently published, peer reviewed articles, for a select group of factors related to homelessness and then calculated the strength of influence (weights) for pairs of factors. We then used these weighted relationships in a FCM to test the effects of increasing or decreasing individual or groups of factors. Results of these trials were explainable according to current empirical knowledge related to homelessness.

Results

Prior graphic maps of homelessness have been of limited use due to the dynamic nature of the concepts related to homelessness. The FCM technique captures greater degrees of dynamism and complexity than static models, allowing relevant concepts to be manipulated and interacted. This, in turn, allows for a much more realistic picture of homelessness. Through network analysis of the FCM we determined that Education exerts the greatest force in the model and hence impacts the dynamism and complexity of a social problem such as homelessness.

Conclusions

The FCM built to model the complex social system of homelessness reasonably represented reality for the sample scenarios created. This confirmed that the model worked and that a search of peer reviewed, academic literature is a reasonable foundation upon which to build the model. Further, it was determined that the direction and strengths of relationships between concepts included in this map are a reasonable approximation of their action in reality. However, dynamic models are not without their limitations and must be acknowledged as inherently exploratory.

Document type: 
Article
File(s): 

Association Of Supermarket Characteristics With The Body Mass Index Of Their Shoppers

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2013
Abstract: 

Background

Research on the built food environment and weight status has mostly focused on the presence/absence of food outlets while ignoring their internal features or where residents actually shop. We explored associations of distance travelled to supermarkets and supermarket characteristics with shoppers’ body mass index (BMI).

Methods

Shoppers (n=555) of five supermarkets situated in different income areas in the city were surveyed for food shopping habits, demographics, home postal code, height and weight. Associations of minimum distance to a supermarket (along road network, objectively measured using ArcGIS), its size, food variety and food basket price with shoppers’ BMI were investigated. The ‘food basket’ was defined as the mixture of several food items commonly consumed by residents and available in all supermarkets.

Results

Supermarkets ranged in total floor space (7500–135 000 square feet) and had similar varieties of fruits, vegetables and cereals. The majority of participants shopped at the surveyed supermarket more than once per week (mean range 1.2 ± 0.8 to 2.3 ± 2.1 times per week across the five supermarkets, p < 0.001), and identified it as their primary store for food (52% overall). Mean participant BMI of the five supermarkets ranged from 23.7 ± 4.3 kg/m2 to 27.1 ± 4.3 kg/m2 (p < 0.001). Median minimum distance from the shoppers’ residence to the supermarket they shopped at ranged from 0.96 (0.57, 2.31) km to 4.30 (2.83, 5.75) km (p < 0.001). A negative association was found between food basket price and BMI. There were no associations between BMI and minimum distance to the supermarket, or other supermarket characteristics. After adjusting for age, sex, dissemination area median individual income and car ownership, BMI of individuals who shopped at Store 1 and Store 2, the supermarkets with lowest price of the ‘food basket’, was 3.66 kg/m2 and 3.73 kg/m2 higher compared to their counterparts who shopped at the supermarket where the ‘food basket’ price was highest (p < 0.001).

Conclusions

The food basket price in supermarkets was inversely associated with BMI of their shoppers. Our results suggest that careful manipulation of food prices may be used as an intervention for decreasing BMI.

Document type: 
Article
File(s): 

You're Dealing With An Emotionally Charged Individual...: An Industry Perspective On The Challenges Posed By Medical Tourists' Informal Caregiver-Companions

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2013
Abstract: 

Background

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.

Methods

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.

Results

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.

Conclusions

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.

Document type: 
Article
File(s): 

Knowledge Brokers, Companions, And Navigators: A Qualitative Examination Of Informal Caregivers' Roles In Medical Tourism

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2013
Abstract: 

Introduction

Many studies examining the phenomena of medical tourism have identified health equity issues associated with this global health services practice. However, there is a notable lack of attention in this existing research to the informal care provided by the friends and family members who typically accompany medical tourists abroad. To date, researchers have not examined the care roles filled by informal caregivers travelling with medical tourists. In this article, we fill this gap by examining these informal caregivers and the roles they take on towards supporting medical tourists’ health and wellbeing.

Methods

We conducted 21 interviews with International Patient Coordinators (IPCs) working at medical tourism hospitals across ten countries. IPCs work closely with informal caregivers as providers of non-medical personal assistance, and can therefore offer broad insight on caregiver roles. The interviews were coded and analyzed thematically.

Results

Three roles emerged: knowledge broker, companion, and navigator. As knowledge brokers, caregivers facilitate the transfer of information between the medical tourist and formal health care providers as well as other staff members at medical tourism facilities. The companion role involves providing medical tourists with physical and emotional care. Meanwhile, responsibilities associated with handling documents and coordinating often complex journeys are part of the navigation role.

Conclusions

This is the first study to examine informal caregiving roles in medical tourism. Many of the roles identified are similar to those of conventional informal caregivers while others are specific to the transnational context. We conclude that these roles make informal caregivers an integral part of the larger phenomenon of medical tourism. We further contend that examining the roles taken on by a heretofore-unconsidered medical tourism stakeholder group sheds valuable insight into how this industry operates and that such knowledge is necessary in order to respond to the health equity debates that surround this particular global health services practice.

Document type: 
Article
File(s): 

Pedestrian Injury and Human Behaviour: Observing Road-Rule Violations at High-Incident Intersections

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2011
Abstract: 

Background

Human behaviour is an obvious, yet under-studied factor in pedestrian injury. Behavioural interventions that address rule violations by pedestrians and motorists could potentially reduce the frequency of pedestrian injury. In this study, a method was developed to examine road-rule non-compliance by pedestrians and motorists. The purpose of the study was to examine the potential association between violations made by pedestrians and motorists at signalized intersections, and collisions between pedestrians and motor-vehicles. The underlying hypothesis is that high-incident pedestrian intersections are likely to vary with respect to their aetiology, and thus are likely to require individualized interventions – based on the type and rate of pedestrian and motorist violation.

Methods

High-incident pedestrian injury intersections in Vancouver, Canada were identified using geographic information systems. Road-rule violations by pedestrians and motorists were documented at each incident hotspot by a team of observers at several different time periods during the day.

Results

Approximately 9,000 pedestrians and 18,000 vehicles were observed in total. In total for all observed intersections, over 2000 (21%) pedestrians committed one of the observed pedestrian road-crossing violations, while approximately 1000 (5.9%) drivers committed one of the observed motorist violations. Great variability in road-rule violations was observed between intersections, and also within intersections at different observation periods.

Conclusions

Both motorists and pedestrians were frequently observed committing road-rule violations at signalized intersections, suggesting a potential human behavioural contribution to pedestrian injury at the study sites. These results suggest that each intersection may have unique mechanisms that contribute to pedestrian injury, and may require targeted behavioural interventions. The method described in this study provides the basis for understanding the relationship between violations and pedestrian injury risk at urban intersections. Findings could be applied to targeted prevention campaigns designed to reduce the number of pedestrian injuries at signalized intersections.

Document type: 
Article
File(s): 

In Search Of Attachment: A Qualitative Study Of Chronically Ill Women Transitioning Between Family Physicians in Rural Ontario, Canada

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2012
Abstract: 

Background

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.

Methods

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.

Results

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.

Conclusions

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.

Document type: 
Article
File(s):