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Reconceptualising relocation for specialist treatment: insights from New Zealand
Purpose: To date, the research on relocation has been conducted in countries such as Australia where there are vast distances that need to be travelled by regional, rural and remote patients to access specialist metropolitan treatment. This research considers the issue of relocation for specialist treatment in a New Zealand context. Methods: The exploration of the experience of relocation from the consumers’ perspective was conducted through an iterative, qualitative research methodology using open-ended interviews conducted by speaker-phone at the time and location of each participant’s choice. Results: The three factors that underpin the phenomenon of ‘travel-based’ accommodation in New Zealand are the strong desire to return home, the small geographical distances that make this possible for many and the strong determination to endure hardship associated with travel when distances are long. Conclusions: Any understanding of relocation for specialist treatment needs to be informed by two concepts: ‘travel-based’ relocation and ‘accommodation-based’ relocation. Relevance of manuscript to inform research, policies and/or programs: The focus needs to be on providing supportive travel arrangements where possible. In New Zealand, as elsewhere, cancer supportive care organisations are increasingly providing volunteers to assist with travel. Such practical volunteer assistance is important, as is financial support through government subsidies to cover the cost of such travel. The insights from the study affirm the importance of health professionals who are supportive and creative in their efforts to assist people to return home. Supportive clinical care such as addressing issues in relation to nausea and pain management for those travelling must also be considered.