Rural cancer survivors (RCS) potentially have unique medical and supportive care experiences when they return to their communities posttreatment because of the availability and accessibility of health services. However, there is a limited understanding of cancer survivorship in rural communities.
The purpose of this study is to describe RCS experiences accessing medical and supportive care postcancer treatment.
Interviews and focus groups were conducted with 52 RCS residing in northern British Columbia, Canada. The data were analyzed using qualitative content analysis methods.
General Population RCS and First Nations RCS experienced challenges accessing timely medical care close to home, resulting in unmet medical needs. Emotional support services were rarely available, and, if they did exist, were difficult to access or not tailored to cancer survivors. Travel and distance were barriers to medical and psychological support and services, not only in terms of the cost of travel, but also the toll this took on family members. Many of the RCS lacked access to trusted and useful information. Financial assistance, for follow-up care and rehabilitation services, was rarely available, as was appropriate employment assistance.
Medical and supportive care can be inaccessible, unavailable, and unaffordable for cancer survivors living in rural northern communities.
This paper documents an exceptional research partnership developed between the Vuntut Gwitchin Government (VGG) in Old Crow, Yukon, with a group of scientists to examine northern food security and health as part of a larger, multidisciplinary International Polar Year (IPY) research program. We focus on the elements that enabled a successful community-researcher relationship. Study design. The VGG led the development of the research and acted as Principal Investigator on the IPY grant. The multidisciplinary collaboration spanned the physical, biological and health sciences, including issues related to food security.
The food security and health component of this research was carried out using a series of complementary methods, including focus groups, structured interviews, a household questionnaire, an interactive workshop, community meetings, transcript analysis and a caribou flesh exposure assessment.
Results from the food security component are informing local and regional adaptation planning. The legacy of the research collaboration includes a number of results-based outputs for a range of stakeholders, a community-based environmental monitoring program, long-term research relationships and improved community capacity.
The type of collaboration described here provides a useful model for new types of participatory health research with northern communities.