Issues and Challenges in Research on the Ethics of Medical Tourism: Reflections from a Conference
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The authors co-organized (Snyder and Crooks) and gave a keynote presentation at (Turner) a conference on ethical issues in medical tourism. Medical tourism involves travel across international borders with the intention of receiving medical care. This care is typically paid for out-of-pocket and is motivated by an interest in cost savings and/or avoiding wait times for care in the patient’s home country. This practice raises numerous ethical concerns, including potentially exacerbating health inequities in destination and source countries and disrupting continuity of care for patients. In this report, we synthesize conference presentations and present three lessons from the conference: 1) Medical tourism research has the potential for cross- or inter-disciplinarity but must bridge the gap between researchers trained in ethical theory and scholars unfamiliar with normative frameworks; 2) Medical tourism research must engage with empirical research from a variety of disciplines; and 3) Ethical analyses of medical tourism must incorporate both individual and population-level perspectives. While these lessons are presented in the context of research on medical tourism, we argue that they are applicable in other areas of research where global practices, such as human subject research and health worker migration, are occurring in the face of limited regulatory oversight.
KeywordsMedical tourism Medical travel
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