Edited by Neil Lunt, Daniel Horsfall and Johanna Hanefeld
Chapter 45: ‘They go the extra mile, the extra ten miles . . .’: examining Canadian medical tourists’ interactions with health care workers abroad
The patient-health care worker relationship can have important implications for people’s health. This chapter provides insights into how patients relate with health care workers abroad, while engaging in medical tourism. Presenting the findings of a thematic analysis that examines 32 telephone interviews with former Canadian medical tourists, the authors discuss participants’ views on clinical interactions with health care workers abroad. The thematic analysis of the interviews led to two main findings: 1) participants perceived that health care workers took a team-based approach and were available and accessible to patients beyond what they had experienced at home; and 2) medical tourists felt that care providers acknowledged their needs and established informal, comfortable relationships that some maintained on return to Canada. The narratives of Canadian medical tourists demonstrate that the medical tourism industry is selling a style of care that patients perceive as highly personalized, attentive, and empathetic. The authors’ findings contribute to understanding what leads individuals to participate in medical tourism. However, it is important not to overemphasize patient satisfaction in medical tourism, which may obscure other important aspects of the treatment experience, such as continuity of care and actual health outcomes.
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