Canadians travelling abroad for privately arranged surgeries paid for out-of-pocket are engaging in what has come to be known as medical tourism. They are often accompanied by friends or family members, who we call caregiver-companions. Caregiver-companions provide care in and across a variety of formal and informal settings, such as in hotels, airplanes and at home. This qualitative study examines the experiences of informal caregivers in medical tourism to learn more about the lived experiences or ‘experiential resources’ they draw upon to cope with providing care and avoiding caregiver burden. The care-giving literature has demonstrated that such burden can negatively impact caregivers’ well-being. The unique, transnational context of care-giving in medical tourism and recent growth in popularity of this practice means that there are few supports or resources currently in place to assist informal caregivers. In this article, we report on an analysis that sought to detail how caregiver-companions draw upon their previous lived experiences to cope with providing transnational care and to minimise or avoid the onset of caregiver burden. We conducted semi-structured telephone interviews with 20 Canadians who had accompanied their friends or family members abroad for surgery between September 2013 and January 2014. Thematic analysis revealed the ways that participants had developed practical strategies to deal with the challenges they faced in medical tourism. The interviews revealed three important experiential resources drawn upon by participants: (i) previous experiences of international travel; (ii) previous experiences of informal care-giving; and (iii) dimensions of the existing relationship with the care recipient. Differences in access to and use of these experiential resources related to participants’ perspectives on medical tourism and the outcomes of the trip. By identifying the experiential resources drawn upon by informal caregivers in medical tourism, we can more effectively identify supportive interventions.
Whitmore, R., Crooks, V.A., Snyder, J. A Qualitative Exploration of how Canadian Informal Caregivers in Medical Tourism use Experiential Resources to Cope with Providing Transnational Care. Health and Social Care in the Community. 2015. doi: 10.1111/hsc.12302
Health and Social Care in the Community
A Qualitative Exploration of how Canadian Informal Caregivers in Medical Tourism use Experiential Resources to Cope with Providing Transnational Care
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