Navigating and making choices about healthcare: The role of place

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In this paper, we examine the intersections between place and healthcare choice, drawing on Bourdieu's concepts of distinction and social space, and engaging with data from interviews with 78 Australians living in varied geographic locations. We find the status of an area is used to judge the quality of its healthcare services. Areas with high status are assumed to have better quality health services than areas of disadvantage. Where people live shapes the choices they make and their judgements about the status of a place. Moreover, having less choice is not necessarily problematic. Participants in regional and remote areas with less choice tend to report positive experiences with healthcare providers. Place can constrain people's ability to make good healthcare choices, yet participants have differing capacities to mobilise resources to overcome the constraints of place.HighlightsHow people think about and value a given place shapes their healthcare choices.It is broadly assumed that highly valued locations offer better healthcare.More choice does not necessarily lead to increased satisfaction with health services.Regional and remote participants do not perceive themselves as disadvantaged by lack of choice.

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