Contributing to health geography scholarship on the topic, the objective of this paper is to reveal Canadian medical tourists' perspectives regarding their choices to seek knee replacement or hip replacement or resurfacing (KRHRR) at medical tourism facilities abroad rather than domestically. We address this objective by examining the 'talk strategies' used by these patients in discussing their choices and the ways in which such talk is co-constructed by others. Fourteen interviews were conducted with Canadians aged 42-77 who had gone abroad for KRHRR. Three types of talk strategies emerged through thematic analysis of their narratives: motivation, justification, and normalization talk. Motivation talk referenced participants' desires to maintain or resume physical activity, employment, and participation in daily life. Justification talk emerged when participants described how limitations in the domestic system drove them abroad. Finally, being a medical tourist was talked about as being normal on several bases. Among other findings, the use of these three talk strategies in patients' narratives surrounding medical tourism for KRHRR offers new insight into the language-health-place interconnection. Specifically, they reveal the complex ways in which medical tourists use talk strategies to assert the soundness of their choice to shift the site of their own medical care on a global scale while also anticipating, if not even guarding against, criticism of what ultimately is their own patient mobility. These talk strategies provide valuable insight into why international patients are opting to engage in the spatially explicit practice of medical tourism and who and what are informing their choices.
Medical tourism is the term that describes patients' international travel with the intention of seeking medical treatment. Some medical tourists go abroad for orthopaedic surgeries, including hip and knee resurfacing and replacement. In this article we examine the findings of interviews with Canadian medical tourists who went abroad for such surgeries to determine what is distinctive about their attitudes when compared to existing qualitative research findings about patients' decision-making in and experiences of these same procedures in their home countries.
Fourteen Canadian medical tourists participated in semi-structured phone interviews, all of whom had gone abroad for hip or knee surgery to treat osteoarthritis. Transcripts were coded and thematically analysed, which involved comparing emerging findings to those in the existing qualitative literature on hip and knee surgery.
Three distinctive attitudinal characteristics among participants were identified when interview themes were compared to findings in the existing qualitative research on hip and knee surgery in osteoarthritis. These attitudinal characteristics were that the medical tourists we spoke with were: (1) comfortable health-related decision-makers; (2) unwavering in their views about procedure necessity and urgency; and (3) firm in their desires to maintain active lives.
Compared to other patients reported on in the existing qualitative hip and knee surgery literature, medical tourists are less likely to question their need for surgery and are particularly active in their pursuit of surgical intervention. They are also comfortable with taking control of health-related decisions. Future research is needed to identify motivators behind patients' pursuit of care abroad, determine if the attitudinal characteristics identified here hold true for other patient groups, and ascertain the impact of these attitudinal characteristics on surgical outcomes. Arthritis care providers can use the attitudinal characteristics identified here to better advise osteoarthritis patients who are considering seeking care abroad.
Cites: Eur J Gen Pract. 2012 Sep;18(3):143-822954193
Cites: J Public Health Dent. 2012 Winter;72(1):28-3522316147
Cites: Med Care. 2001 Mar;39(3):206-1611242316
Cites: Med Decis Making. 2002 May-Jun;22(3):272-812058784
Cites: CMAJ. 2002 Nov 12;167(10):1115-2112427702
Cites: J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2003 Sep;85-A(9):1710-512954829