The lived experience of Chinese medical tourists receiving cancer care in clinical settings in the United States

Date

12/21/2021

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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to describe and explore the lived experience of Chinese medical tourists receiving cancer care in clinical settings in the United States about the impact of cultural and linguistic background on their experience when seeking treatment in a western country. Perceived challenges and barriers during the entire medical travel provide insight on strategies that could enhance culturally appropriate healthcare and improve medical tourists’ experience. Hermeneutic phenomenology was used to interview participants on WeChat. The sample was purposively recruited and supplemented by snowball strategies. Hermeneutic phenomenology methods and Hermeneutic circles were used to analyze data. Five themes were identified: a) application process challenges; b) overcoming transportation and language barriers; c) content with healthcare received in the US; d) waiting for services and other minor dissatisfactions; e) being a medical tourist is costly. The time-consuming and somewhat complicated application process may not allow some medical tourists to access cancer care in the U.S due to the life-limiting nature of cancer and its severity. Difficult commuting without a car was overcome by renting an apartment next to the hospitals and paid others for grocery shopping. Passivity in Chinese culture impacted effective communication and need healthcare providers to offer adequate information about the diagnosis, treatment process, and results for the patients and invite them actively to join in the conversation. Great environment in clinical settings followed by being equally respected and trust relationships with providers constructed medical tourists’ satisfaction with healthcare received in the U.S. Minor dissatisfactions exist such as long waiting time for service and low efficiency of service but could be mediated by doctors' interpersonal skills and quiet environment in clinical settings. High cost is a major concern for medical tourists seeking cancer treatment in the U.S. The implication for clinical settings includes providing a standard translation sample for medical records when they start an application. Providing them a handbook or printed brochure in Chinese including transportation, grocery shopping, and accommodation information after medical tourists arrived in the U.S. The implication for healthcare providers is to provide cultural competency training such as cross-cultural knowledge and skills and sensitivity toward the diversity norms of other cultures. The implications for medical tourism agencies involve improving their service. The implication for the U.S government is to accelerate the visa processing time for those medical tourists who seeking cancer treatment and set up some regulations to restrict medical tourism agencies.

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Keywords

Medial tourism, Lived experience, Healthcare, Chinese

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