Top 7 Issues in Medical Tourism: Challenges, Knowledge Gaps, and Future Directions for Research and Policy Development

  •  Jason Behrmann    
  •  Elise Smith    


Medical tourism is a general term that describes patients traveling to obtain health services. The growth of medical tourism is due to a broad range of motivators and increasingly, developing countries are seeking to capitalize on these flows and are linking medical care with actual tourist activities. This commercial linkage between healthcare and tourism is a rapidly developing and profitable industry that is attracting growing interest amongst health researchers. This article summarizes seven leading issues concerning medically-motivated travel that were identified by academic researchers during a November 2009 Symposium on the Implications of Medical Tourism for Canadian Health and Health Policy. These issues include emerging technologies, particular vulnerable populations, Canadian business ties to the industry, patient populations excluded from analysis, and comparative analyses between health service providers for medical travelers. This article aims to help guide researchers as they investigate ethical, legal, social, public health, and economic issues related to the growing medical tourism industry.

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