09:20am Wednesday 16 October 2019

Study seeks rural people travelling for surgery

A conversation with Dr James Muir, the Director of Anaesthetics at the Western District Hospital, sparked an interest to find out more about what it is like for patients who travel to Hamilton for surgery.

RMIT University PhD student Dorothy McLaren, who is working at the Potter Rural Community Research Network at RMIT Hamilton, and the Western District Health Service are working together to investigate the practical aspects of travelling in relation to surgery.

“There are obvious costs associated with fuel, food, accommodation and other items that have to be paid for. But there are other things that matter to individuals – such as the social costs,” Ms McLaren said.

This investigation will help to generate new and better ways of delivering health care to rural people. Most elective surgery patients will make at least three to five return visits to Hamilton for medical appointments. The costs add up.

What does it really mean to be away from home for health care? This study is unique in that an academic analysis of the stories collected will be combined with a practical analysis of what can be done to help reduce the stress and cost of travel for surgery.

The researcher collects patients’ stories and a team of relevant senior staff at the Western District Health Service help to analyse the general issues raised (all participants remain anonymous). This means that practical responses can be identified.

The study is seeking to interview people who are travelling between 80km and 200km one-way to Hamilton Base Hospital for elective surgery.

For more information about the project, contact Dorothy McLaren on (03) 5572 0513 or email dorothy.mclaren@rmit.edu.au.

For interviews: Dorothy McLaren, 0488 391 499.

For general enquiries: RMIT Hamilton, Michelle van Loggerenberg, (03) 5572 0505 or 0430 382 432.

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