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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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High-Frequency Use of Corrections, Health, and Social Services, and Association With Mental Illness and Substance Use

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

Background

A subgroup of individuals becomes entrenched in a “revolving door” involving corrections, health, and social welfare services. Little research has investigated the numbers of people that are in frequent contact with multiple public agencies, the costs associated with these encounters, or the characteristics of the people concerned. The present study used linked administrative data to examine offenders who were also very frequent users of health and social services. We investigated the magnitude and distribution of costs attributable to different categories of service for those in the top 10 % of sentences to either community or custodial settings. We hypothesized that the members of these subgroups would be significantly more likely to have substance use and other mental disorders than other members of the offender population.

Methods

Data were linked across agencies responsible for services to the entire population of British Columbia spanning justice, health, and income assistance. Individuals were eligible for inclusion in the study if they were sentenced at least once in the Vancouver Provincial Court between 2003 and 2012. We examined the subset of participants who fell within the top 10 % of sentences and at least two of the following service categories: community physician services; hospital days; pharmaceutical costs; or income assistance between 2007 and 2012. We examined two groups of offenders separately (those in the top ten percent sentenced to community supervision or to custody) due to differences in time at risk and availability to receive community-based services.

Results

From more than 14,000 offenders sentenced in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, very High Frequency service users associated with community (n = 216) and custody (n = 107) sentences incurred average attributable public service costs of id="mce_marker"68,000 and $247,000 respectively over a 5-year period of observation. Health-related costs for both groups were over $80,000 per person, primarily associated with hospital admissions. Across both groups, 99 % had been diagnosed with at least one mental disorder and over 80 % had co-occurring substance use and another mental disorder.

Conclusions

A subset of offenders with concurrent psychiatric disorders receives extremely high levels of service from health, social welfare, and justice sectors in close temporal succession. Members of this subpopulation require targeted supports in order to produce positive outcomes and prevent the perpetuation of a costly and ineffective revolving door.

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Article
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Older Adults’ Outdoor Walking and the Built Environment: Does Income Matter?

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

Background

Our aim was to examine the association between Street Smart Walk Score® and self-reported outdoor walking among older Canadians, and to determine whether socioeconomic status modifies this association.

Methods

We linked objective walkability data with cross-sectional survey data from the Canadian Community Health Survey Healthy-Aging 2008–2009 Cycle for a sample of 1309 British Columbians aged ≥ 65 years. We examined associations between Street Smart Walk Score and meeting physical activity guidelines (≥150 min of moderate to vigorous activity/week) through self-reported outdoor walking using multivariable logistic regression, and tested for significant interactions with household income.

Results

A ten point higher Street Smart Walk Score was associated with a 17 % higher odds of meeting physical activity guidelines through walking outside (95 % CI: 1.07,1.27). In addition, older adults living in neighbourhoods categorised as Walker’s Paradise were over three times more likely to meet guidelines than those living in Car-dependent/Very car dependent neighbourhoods. We found no evidence that household income moderated the effect of Walk Score on walking outside.

Conclusions

Neighbourhood design may be one avenue whereby physical activity levels of older people can be enhanced through outdoor walking, with benefit across socioeconomic strata.

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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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Canadian Research Ethics Board Members’ Attitudes Toward Benefits From Clinical Trials

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

Background

While ethicists have for many years called for human subject trial participants and, in some cases, local community members to benefit from participation in pharmaceutical and other intervention-based therapies, little is known about how these discussions are impacting the practice of research ethics boards (REBs) that grant ethical approval to many of these studies.

Methods

Telephone interviews were conducted with 23 REB members from across Canada, a major funder country for human subject research internationally. All interviews were digitally recorded and transcribed verbatim. After coding, the data was analyzed to identify central themes and topics. Themes were identified, application of the themes was confirmed, and these themes were then used to populate the findings of this manuscript.

Results

Our analysis of the interviews identified two primary themes when considering what benefits are owed to research participants and their communities. 1) Most study participants felt that given that these studies are led by persons in the role of researcher rather than health care provider, they had a limited obligation to provide benefits to study participants. 2) These REB members were all working in Canada, a high income country where most residents enjoy high levels of access to health care. As a result of this context, the study participants tended to focus on ethical concerns including obtaining informed consent and avoiding undue inducement to participate in research rather than ensuring that study participants directly benefit from successful trials.

Conclusions

Research on REB members’ attitudes toward what benefits are owed to study participants and community members is needed in other countries in order to determine how context affects these attitudes.

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Article
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Factors Associated With the Frequency of Monitoring of Liver Enzymes, Renal Function and Lipid Laboratory Markers Among Individuals Initiating Combination Antiretroviral Therapy: A Cohort Study

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

Background

As the average age of the HIV-positive population increases, there is increasing need to monitor patients for the development of comorbidities as well as for drug toxicities.

Methods

We examined factors associated with the frequency of measurement of liver enzymes, renal function tests, and lipid levels among participants of the Canadian Observational Cohort (CANOC) collaboration which follows people who initiated HIV antiretroviral therapy in 2000 or later. We used zero-inflated negative binomial regression models to examine the associations of demographic and clinical characteristics with the rates of measurement during follow-up. Generalized estimating equations with a logit link were used to examine factors associated with gaps of 12 months or more between measurements.

Results

Electronic laboratory data were available for 3940 of 7718 CANOC participants. The median duration of electronic follow-up was 3.5 years. The median (interquartile) rates of tests per year were 2.76 (1.60, 3.73), 2.55 (1.44, 3.38) and 1.42 (0.50, 2.52) for liver, renal and lipid parameters, respectively. In multivariable zero-inflated negative binomial regression models, individuals infected through injection drug use (IDU) were significantly less likely to have any measurements. Among participants with at least one measurement, rates of measurement of liver, renal and lipid tests were significantly lower for younger individuals and Aboriginal Peoples. Hepatitis C co-infected individuals with a history of IDU had lower rates of measurement and were at greater risk of having 12 month gaps between measurements.

Conclusions

Hepatitis C co-infected participants infected through IDU were at increased risk of gaps in testing, despite publicly funded health care and increased risk of comorbid conditions. This should be taken into consideration in analyses examining factors associated with outcomes based on laboratory parameters.

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Article
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Association of Pyrethroid Pesticide Exposure With Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in a Nationally Representative Sample of U.S. Children

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

Background

Pyrethroid pesticides cause abnormalities in the dopamine system and produce an ADHD phenotype in animal models, with effects accentuated in males versus females. However, data regarding behavioral effects of pyrethroid exposure in children is limited. We examined the association between pyrethroid pesticide exposure and ADHD in a nationally representative sample of US children, and tested whether this association differs by sex.

Methods

Data are from 8–15 year old participants (N = 687) in the 2001–2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Exposure was assessed using concurrent urinary levels of the pyrethroid metabolite 3-phenoxybenzoic acid (3-PBA). ADHD was defined by either meeting Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-Fourth Edition criteria on the Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children (DISC) or caregiver report of a prior diagnosis. ADHD symptom counts were determined via the DISC. Multivariable logistic regression examined the link between pyrethroid exposure and ADHD, and poisson regression investigated the link between exposure and ADHD symptom counts.

Results

Children with urinary 3-PBA above the limit of detection (LOD) were twice as likely to have ADHD compared with those below the LOD (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 2.42; 95 % confidence interval [CI] 1.06, 5.57). Hyperactive-impulsive symptoms increased by 50 % for every 10-fold increase in 3-PBA levels (adjusted count ratio 1.50; 95 % CI 1.03, 2.19); effects on inattention were not significant. We observed possible sex-specific effects: pyrethroid biomarkers were associated with increased odds of an ADHD diagnosis and number of ADHD symptoms for boys but not girls.

Conclusions

We found an association between increasing pyrethroid pesticide exposure and ADHD which may be stronger for hyperactive-impulsive symptoms compared to inattention and in boys compared to girls. Given the growing use of pyrethroid pesticides, these results may be of considerable public health import.

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Article
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History of Foster Care Among Homeless Adults with Mental Illness in Vancouver, British Columbia: A Precursor to Trajectories of Risk

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

Background

It is well documented that a disproportionate number of homeless adults have childhood histories of foster care placement(s). This study examines the relationship between foster care placement as a predictor of adult substance use disorders (including frequency, severity and type), mental illness, vocational functioning, service use and duration of homelessness among a sample of homeless adults with mental illness. We hypothesize that a history of foster care predicts earlier, more severe and more frequent substance use, multiple mental disorder diagnoses, discontinuous work history, and longer durations of homelessness.

Methods

This study was conducted using baseline data from two randomized controlled trials in Vancouver, British Columbia for participants who responded to a series of questions pertaining to out-of-home care at 12 months follow-up (n = 442). Primary outcomes included current mental disorders; substance use including type, frequency and severity; physical health; duration of homelessness; vocational functioning; and service use.

Results

In multivariable regression models, a history of foster care placement independently predicted incomplete high school, duration of homelessness, discontinuous work history, less severe types of mental illness, multiple mental disorders, early initiation of drug and/or alcohol use, and daily drug use.

Conclusions

This is the first Canadian study to investigate the relationship between a history of foster care and current substance use among homeless adults with mental illness, controlling for several other potential confounding factors. It is important to screen homeless youth who exit foster care for substance use, and to provide integrated treatment for concurrent disorders to homeless youth and adults who have both psychiatric and substance use problems.

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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.

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Article
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Life Expectancy of HIV-Positive Individuals on Combination Antiretroviral Therapy in Canada

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

Background

We sought to evaluate life expectancy and mortality of HIV-positive individuals initiating combination antiretroviral therapy (ART) across Canada, and to consider the potential error introduced by participant loss to follow-up (LTFU).

Methods

Our study used data from the Canadian Observational Cohort (CANOC) collaboration, including HIV-positive individuals aged ≥18 years who initiated ART on or after January 1, 2000. The CANOC collaboration collates data from eight sites in British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec. We computed abridged life-tables and remaining life expectancies at age 20 and compared outcomes by calendar period and patient characteristics at treatment initiation. To correct for potential underreporting of mortality due to participant LTFU, we conservatively estimated 30 % mortality among participants lost to follow-up.

Results

9997 individuals contributed 49,589 person-years and 830 deaths for a crude mortality rate of 16.7 [standard error (SE) 0.6] per 1000 person-years. When assigning death to 30 % of participants lost to follow-up, we estimated 1170 deaths and a mortality rate of 23.6 [SE 0.7] per 1000 person-years. The crude overall life expectancy at age 20 was 45.2 [SE 0.7] and 37.5 [SE 0.6] years after adjusting for LTFU. In the LTFU-adjusted analysis, lower life expectancy at age 20 was observed for women compared to men (32.4 [SE 1.1] vs. 39.2 [SE 0.7] years), for participants with injection drug use (IDU) history compared to those without IDU history (23.9 [SE 1.0] vs. 52.3 [SE 0.8] years), for participants reporting Aboriginal ancestry compared to those with no Aboriginal ancestry (17.7 [SE 1.5] vs. 51.2 [SE 1.0] years), and for participants with CD4 count <350 cells/μL compared to CD4 count ≥350 cells/μL at treatment initiation (36.3 [SE 0.7] vs. 43.5 [SE 1.3] years). Life expectancy at age 20 in the calendar period 2000–2003 was lower than in periods 2004–2007 and 2008–2012 in the LTFU-adjusted analyses (30.8 [SE 0.9] vs. 38.6 [SE 1.0] and 54.2 [SE 1.4]).

Conclusions

Life expectancy and mortality for HIV-positive individuals receiving ART differ by calendar period and patient characteristics at treatment initiation. Failure to consider LTFU may result in underestimation of mortality rates and overestimation of life expectancy.

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Article
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