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A Comparative Analysis of Potential Spatio-Temporal Access to Palliative Care Services in Two Canadian Provinces

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2015
Abstract: 

Background

Access to health services such as palliative care is determined not only by health policy but a number of legacies linked to geography and settlement patterns. We use GIS to calculate potential spatio-temporal access to palliative care services. In addition, we combine qualitative data with spatial analysis to develop a unique mixed-methods approach.

Methods

Inpatient health care facilities with dedicated palliative care beds were sampled in two Canadian provinces: Newfoundland and Saskatchewan. We then calculated one-hour travel time catchments to palliative health services and extended the spatial model to integrate available beds as well as documented wait times.

Results

26 facilities with dedicated palliative care beds in Newfoundland and 69 in Saskatchewan were identified. Spatial analysis of one-hour travel times and palliative beds per 100,000 population in each province showed distinctly different geographical patterns. In Saskatchewan, 96.7 % of the population living within a-1 h of drive to a designated palliative care bed. In Newfoundland, 93.2 % of the population aged 65+ were living within a-1 h of drive to a designated palliative care bed. However, when the relationship between wait time and bed availability was examined for each facility within these two provinces, the relationship was found to be weak in Newfoundland (R2 = 0.26) and virtually nonexistent in Saskatchewan (R2 = 0.01).

Conclusions

Our spatial analysis shows that when wait times are incorporated as a way to understand potential spatio-temporal access to dedicated palliative care beds, as opposed to spatial access alone, the picture of access changes.

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Article
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Inbound Medical Tourism to Barbados: A Qualitative Examination of Local Lawyers’ Prospective Legal and Regulatory Concerns

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2015
Abstract: 

Background

Enabled by globalizing processes such as trade liberalization, medical tourism is a practice that involves patients’ intentional travel to privately obtain medical care in another country. Empirical legal research on this issue is limited and seldom based on the perspectives of destination countries receiving medical tourists. We consulted with diverse lawyers from across Barbados to explore their views on the prospective legal and regulatory implications of the developing medical tourism industry in the country.

Methods

We held a focus group in February 2014 in Barbados with lawyers from across the country. Nine lawyers with diverse legal backgrounds participated. Focus group moderators summarized the study objective and engaged participants in identifying the local implications of medical tourism and the anticipated legal and regulatory concerns. The focus group was transcribed verbatim and analyzed thematically.

Results

Five dominant legal and regulatory themes were identified through analysis: (1) liability; (2) immigration law; (3) physician licensing; (4) corporate ownership; and (5) reputational protection.

Conclusions

Two predominant legal and ethical concerns associated with medical tourism in Barbados were raised by participants and are reflected in the literature: the ability of medical tourists to recover medical malpractice for adverse events; and the effects of medical tourism on access to health care in the destination country. However, the participants also identified several topics that have received much less attention in the legal and ethical literature. Overall this analysis reveals that lawyers, at least in Barbados, have an important role to play in the medical tourism sector beyond litigation – particularly in transactional and gatekeeper capacities. It remains to be seen whether these findings are specific to the ecology of Barbados or can be extrapolated to the legal climate of other medical tourism destination countries.

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Article
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Suburbanisation of Oral Cavity Cancers: Evidence From a Geographically-Explicit Observational Study of Incidence Trends in British Columbia, Canada, 1981–2010

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2015
Abstract: 

Background

Recent studies have demonstrated an elevated risk of oral cavity cancers (OCC) among socioeconomically deprived populations, whose increasing presence in suburban neighbourhoods poses unique challenges for equitable health service delivery. The majority of studies to date have utilised aspatial methods to identify OCC. In this study, we use high-resolution geographical analyses to identify spatio-temporal trends in OCC incidence, emphasising the value of geospatial methods for public health research.

Methods

Using province-wide population incidence data from the British Columbia Cancer Registry (1981–2009, N  = 5473), we classify OCC cases by census-derived neighbourhood types to differentiate between urban, suburban, and rural residents at the time of diagnosis. We map geographical concentrations by decade and contrast trends in age-adjusted incidence rates, comparing the results to an index of socioeconomic deprivation.

Results

Suburban cases were found to comprise a growing proportion of OCC incidence. In effect, OCC concentrations have dispersed from dense urban cores to suburban neighbourhoods in recent decades. Significantly higher age-adjusted oral cancer incidence rates are observed in suburban neighbourhoods from 2006 to 2009, accompanied by rising socioeconomic deprivation in those areas. New suburban concentrations of incidence were found in neighbourhoods with a high proportion of persons aged 65+ and/or born in India, China, or Taiwan.

Conclusions

While the aging of suburban populations provides some explanation of these trends, we highlight the role of the suburbanisation of socioeconomically deprived and Asia-born populations, known to have higher rates of risk behaviours such as tobacco, alcohol, and betel/areca consumption. Specifically, betel/areca consumption among Asia-born populations is suspected to be a primary driver of the observed geographical shift in incidence from urban cores to suburban neighbourhoods. We suggest that such geographically-informed findings are complementary to potential and existing place-specific cancer control policy and targeting prevention efforts for high-risk sub-populations, and call for the supplementation of epidemiological studies with high-resolution mapping and geospatial analysis.

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Article
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“You Don’t Want to Lose That Trust That You’ve Built With This Patient…”: (Dis)Trust, Medical Tourism, and the Canadian Family Physician-Patient Relationship

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2015
Abstract: 

Background

Recent trends document growth in medical tourism, the private pursuit of medical interventions abroad. Medical tourism introduces challenges to decision-making that impact and are impacted by the physician-patient trust relationship—a relationship on which the foundation of beneficent health care lies. The objective of the study is to examine the views of Canadian family physicians about the roles that trust plays in decision-making about medical tourism, and the impact of medical tourism on the therapeutic relationship.

Methods

We conducted six focus groups with 22 family physicians in the Canadian province of British Columbia. Data were analyzed thematically using deductive and inductive codes that captured key concepts across the narratives of participants.

Results

Family physicians indicated that they trust their patients to act as the lead decision-makers about medical tourism, but are conflicted when the information they are managing contradicts the best interests of the patients. They reported that patients distrust local health care systems when they experience insufficiencies in access to care and that this can prompt patients to consider going abroad for care. Trust fractures in the physician-patient relationship can arise from shame, fear and secrecy about medical tourism.

Conclusions

Family physicians face diverse tensions about medical tourism as they must balance their roles in: (1) providing information about medical tourism within a context of information deficits; (2) supporting decision-making while distancing themselves from patients’ decisions to engage in medical tourism; and (3) acting both as agents of the patient and of the domestic health care system. These tensions highlight the ongoing need for reliable third-party informational resources about medical tourism and the development of responsive policy.

Document type: 
Article
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Spatial Access to Emergency Services in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A GIS-Based Analysis

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2015
Abstract: 

Injury is a leading cause of the global disease burden, accounting for 10 percent of all deaths worldwide. Despite 90 percent of these deaths occurring in low and middle-income countries (LMICs), the majority of trauma research and infrastructure development has taken place in high-income settings. Furthermore, although accessible services are of central importance to a mature trauma system, there remains a paucity of literature describing the spatial accessibility of emergency services in LMICs. Using data from the Service Provision Assessment component of the Demographic and Health Surveys of Namibia and Haiti we defined the capabilities of healthcare facilities in each country in terms of their preparedness to provide emergency services. A Geographic Information System-based network analysis method was used to define 5- 10- and 50-kilometer catchment areas for all facilities capable of providing 24-hour care, higher-level resuscitative services or tertiary care. The proportion of a country’s population with access to each level of service was obtained by amalgamating the catchment areas with a population layer. A significant proportion of the population of both countries had poor spatial access to lower level services with 25% of the population of Haiti and 51% of the population of Namibia living further than 50 kilometers from a facility capable of providing 24-hour care. Spatial access to tertiary care was considerably lower with 51% of Haitians and 72% of Namibians having no access to these higher-level services within 50 kilometers. These results demonstrate a significant disparity in potential spatial access to emergency services in two LMICs compared to analogous estimates from high-income settings, and suggest that strengthening the capabilities of existing facilities may improve the equity of emergency services in these countries. Routine collection of georeferenced patient and facility data in LMICs will be important to understanding how spatial access to services influences outcomes.

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Article
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“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.

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Article
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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
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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.

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Article
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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.

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Article
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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
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