Purpose/Objectives: To present the findings from recent research on the experience of relocation for specialist treatment for patients in the hematology/oncology population.
Research Approach: Descriptive, qualitative study based on exploratory, in-depth interviews that were recorded, transcribed, coded, and thematically analyzed.
Setting: Leukaemia Foundation of Queensland, Australia.
Participants: A purposive sample of 45 individuals with hematologic cancer who had to relocate for specialist treatment.
Methodologic Approach: A descriptive, qualitative methodology actioned through open-ended, in-depth interviews with 45 participants who relocated for specialist treatment.
Findings: The findings indicate that relocation happens at a time when patients are particularly emotionally vulnerable from the shock of their diagnosis or relapse and the confrontation with a potentially life-threatening condition. During this time, when the need for the comfort and support of home and family is heightened, patients have to separate from their family and travel to metropolitan specialist centers. For patients from regional, rural, and remote locations, which are lengthy distances from metropolitan hospitals, the choice to return home during treatment is not a realistic option. Distance also can be a barrier that prevents family from visiting the hospital to provide support.
Conclusions: Individuals who have to relocate require psychosocial support. Because of the stresses associated with relocation for specialist care, many patients from regional, rural, and remote areas would prefer to be treated locally.
Interpretation: Understanding and responding to family issues associated with relocation for specialist treatment is an important aspect of oncology nursing care for patients who have to relocate from regional, rural, and remote areas. Because centralization of specialist hematology treatment is a worldwide trend, the findings have relevance to an international nursing audience.