a1 School of Nursing, University of British Columbia Okanagan, Kelowna British Columbia, Canada
a2 Centre for Healthy Living and Chronic Disease Prevention, University of British Columbia Okanagan, Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada
a3 Pain and Symptom Management/Palliative Care Program
a4 British Columbia Cancer Agency – Centre for the Southern Interior, Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada
Objective: The aim of this research project was to gain an understanding of the experiences of rural cancer patients who commute to an urban cancer center for palliative care.
Method: The study utilized a mixed method design. Fifteen individuals with a palliative designation participated in semi-structured interviews and filled out the Problems and Needs in Palliative Care Questionnaire.
Results: Qualitative findings included three major themes: cultures of rural life and care, strategies for commuting, and the effects of commuting. Participants valued their rural lifestyles and gained significant support from their communities. Strategies included preparing for the trip with particular attention to pain management, making the most of time, and maintaining significant relationships. Establishing a routine helped to offset the anxiety of commuting. Commuting was costly but the quality of life and supportive relationships obtained through treatment were significant benefits. Questionnaire data suggested that participants were experiencing a number of problems but few indicated they desired more professional attention to those problems.
Significance of Results: Rural lifestyles are often an important part of overall well-being and commuting for care is both costly and complex. Health care providers should assist individuals to weigh the relative contributions of staying in their rural locale versus commuting for care to their overall quality of life. Palliative-care individuals in this study indicated a number of ongoing problems but were not inclined to seek further assistance from health care providers in addressing those problems. Clinicians should actively inquire about problems and further research is needed to understand why patients are reluctant to seek help.
(Received July 04 2009)
(Accepted October 17 2009)
c1 Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Barbara Pesut, School of Nursing, UBC Okanagan, 3333 University Way, Kelowna BC, V1V 1V7, Canada, P: 250.807.9955 F: 250.807.9865 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org