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 43: Journey without end: travelling overseas for bariatric surgery: a qualitative study of UK patients travelling for bariatric surgery

Johanna Hanefeld and Daniel Horsfall

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


Despite a growth in literature focusing on many different aspects of medical tourism or travel (Connell, 2013), empirical evidence is still limited. While studies have addressed the system-level effects on origin and destination countries, health services and population, few have focused on who travels and why. Studies on bariatric tourists to date have focused on complications and ethical issues relating to patients who travel for bariatric treatment but not on motivation and experience. Like cosmetic surgery, bariatric surgery is often perceived to be non-essential, but links to patients intending to improve themselves and their looks, taking action on an aspect of their life with which they are dissatisfied (Holliday et al., 2014). This chapter addresses the gap in the literature, by focusing on thirteen in-depth interviews with UK patients who travelled abroad to access bariatric treatment. It examines their motivation to travel, how they decided on the procedure and provider of treatment, the experiences of actual treatments received, and any complications or follow-up treatment required once they returned to the UK.

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