Document Type : Research Articles
PhD Scholar, Public Health, School of Health Systems Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, India.
Objective: To map and identify the sequence of visitation to institutes by patients with common cancers. Methods: This paper used a mixed method to follow a descriptive multiple-embedded case study. Participants selected in phase one were 388 by stratified random sampling, and in phase two, by purposive sampling, a semi-structured interview was conducted for 21 participants (15 participants and six key informants-oncologists: radiation - 2, medical - 2, surgical - 1 and gynaecology - 1). Ethical clearances were received from the study institutes. Informed consent was obtained from the participants. Results: Sparse research exists on mapping and choices of healthcare settings by cancer patients from northeast India. The main finding comprises a vivid overview of the decisions taken by cancer patients to get their necessary treatment based on all factors mitigating and inhibiting. Up to five hospitals for cancer treatment across the country. Private hospitals were preferred on the first visit by 74 percent (287), followed by the government by 26 percent (101); this, however, changes in subsequent hospital choices, with the latter preferred over the other, which could be due to the long duration of cancer treatment that is directly influenced by the paying capacity of the individual. Visitation was not limited to famous cancer hospitals, but few participants reported accessing herbal medicines, Ayurveda and Homoeopathy. Conclusion: Mapping patient choices of cancer institutes by patients from northeast India is essential as the challenges faced are unique to the region. By mapping patient choices of cancer institutes, insights into the preferred healthcare facilities can influence policies to improve the accessibility of cancer facilities. Findings from this study can support improving access to quality healthcare services, promoting cultural sensitivity, enhancing the quality of care, and informing policy planning and resource allocation.