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 21: Culture and medical travel

Elisa J. Sobo

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


Medical travel is an inherently cross-cultural exercise. But what, exactly, does culture entail? How and where does it make its mark? This chapter demonstrates that we are all cultural beings, and that culture (biomedical culture included) is processual and porous rather than a static, self-contained, ethnically-anchored entity. The chapter then examines the various ways in which culture informs diverse dimensions of medical travel, including not only marketing, facilitation, and health services delivery, but also care seeking. Indeed, culture underwrites diverse health-related demand-side desires themselves, and motivates many of the varied secondary outcomes that patients, and families, strive for when undertaking medical travel. Culture also has important supply-side ramifications, as for subjective self-experience and local self-definition. As this chapter shows, an in-depth understanding of culture must be applied if we are to achieve full, fine-grained knowledge of medical travel’s varied forms, diverse purposes, and sundry ramifications.

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