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Visiting Scholar Dr. Valorie A. Cooks, Professor and Canada Research Chair in Health Service Geographies

Picture of Valorie A. Cooks

“Informal Labour in the Medical Tourism Industry: The Roles and Responsibilities Taken on by Canadian Medical Tourists’ Friends and Family”

UBC Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy Visiting Scholar Lecture

Department of Geography, Simon Fraser University


DATE:    Thursday January 26th 2017

TIME:    2:30-3:30pm

PLACE:  Department of OS&OT Lab 4,

3rd Floor, UBC Hospital Koerner Pavilion


When people pay privately for and privately arrange health care in another country, they are taking part in what is popularly known as medical tourism. Often reported as a multi-billion dollar sector, the global medical tourism ‘industry’ relies heavily on the unpaid and typically unskilled labour of the friends and family who accompany these patients abroad. In effect, they are shadow workers in an industry that thrives on their unpaid work. In this presentation I will critically examine the roles and responsibilities taken on by this group of informal caregivers—and particularly while they are abroad in unfamiliar settings and far removed from their own personal support networks—and will conclude by offering recommendations for ways to protect their health and safety.

Valorie Crooks is a Professor in the Department of Geography, SFU, and Canada Research Chair in Health Service Geographies. A health geographer by training, Dr. Crooks is interested in the spatial and place-based dimensions of health and health care. She has an ongoing interest in understanding lived experiences of accessing needed/wanted health and social care services. Because of this experiential focus, she primarily engages in non-hypothesis-testing qualitative research, or leads qualitative components of mixed-methods studies. Her research interests are best characterized by four areas of inquiry: (1) disability and chronic illness; (2) primary health care; (3) palliative health and social care; and (4) medical tourism.


Please RSVP by Jan 17 to

Refreshments will be provided.