Table of Contents

Handbook on Medical Tourism and Patient Mobility

Handbook on Medical Tourism and Patient Mobility

Edited by Neil Lunt, Daniel Horsfall and Johanna Hanefeld

The growth of international travel for purposes of medical treatment has been accompanied by increased academic research and analysis. This Handbook explores the emergence of medical travel and patient mobility and the implications for patients and health systems. Bringing together leading scholars and analysts from across the globe, this unprecedented Handbook examines the regional and national experiences of medical tourism, including coverage of the Americas, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. The chapters explore topics on issues of risk, law and ethics; and include treatment-focused discussions which highlight patient decision-making, patient experience and treatment outcomes for cosmetic, transplantation, dentil, fertility and bariatric treatment.

Chapter 2: Medical tourism – concepts and definitions

John Connell

Subjects: economics and finance, health policy and economics, politics and public policy, public policy, social policy and sociology, health policy and economics


Medical tourism has never been effectively defined. It is usually conceived as relatively recent travel from the global ‘north’ to the ‘south’, but is much more complex and scarcely new. Definitions take varying note of intent, procedures (that usually exclude wellness and sometimes dentistry) and the role of actual tourism. Refugee movements, formal transfers across adjacent borders, return of diasporic patients, movements of the desperately ill, and the search for ‘last resort’ cures, raise moral, cultural and political issues and challenge easy definition. Balancing medical care, intent, need, duration, gravity and tourism is difficult, and emphasises the extraordinary social, geographical and medical diversity of medical tourism. International medical travel, or transnational healthcare, provide more all-embracing definitions for cross-border movements for medical care, with medical tourism more appropriate for circumstances where tourism plays a substantial role, but medical tourism is likely to remain the primary term since it meets industry’s populist needs.

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