Graduation Date


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department or Program


Department or Program Chair

Luanne Linnard-Palmer, EdD, RN

First Reader

Margaret Fink, EdD., RN, BC

Second Reader

Barbara Ganley, PhD, RN


Background. Each year, despite warnings from the American Cancer Association, many US and Canadian citizens travel to Tijuana, Mexico, for cancer care. The main criticism of these clinics is that they provide treatments that are unproven, potentially unsafe, and expensive. Despite this, about 35 clinics exist in Tijuana that provide alternative care to patients who pay cash for these services.

Objectives. To understand the lived experience of people who have made the choice to receive cancer treatment at alternative cancer clinics in Tijuana, and gain insight into the process by which that decision occurs.

Population. 5 participants were interviewed. Three adult US citizens, one Canadian, and both parents of a US pediatric patient.

Method. A phenomenological approach was used. Participants were interviewed at clinics while undergoing treatment. The researcher conducted a review of the clinics and treatments offered, along with history of the political, social, and economic climate in which the phenomena exists.

Conclusions. Themes identified in the decision-making process are rational, social and emotional. People choose caregivers based on trusting relationships and reasons that seem rational to them. Decisions are often values based, such as quality of life.