Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

British medical tourists seeking treatment overseas without sufficient information, advice

Date:
February 3, 2014
Source:
University of York
Summary:
A team of researchers has found that British people traveling abroad for medical treatment are often unaware of the potential health and financial consequences they could face.

A team of researchers has found that British people traveling abroad for medical treatment are often unaware of the potential health and financial consequences they could face.

The researchers say this can, in some cases, have catastrophic effects for individual patients.

At least 63,000 UK residents travel abroad for medical treatment each year. However, the study led by the University of York, and involving the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Royal Holloway University, the University of Birmingham and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, concludes that many people are embarking on medical tourism without understanding the risks involved.

These include a lack of redress in many countries should things go wrong, and the costs of non-emergency care at home to rectify poor outcomes of treatments received overseas. Many people, the researchers say, are unaware that under current NHS eligibility and commissioning rules, individuals may be personally liable for these costs.

The research was funded by the National Institute for Health Research Health Services and Delivery Research (NIHR HS&DR) Programme. The study looked at the effects on the NHS of British nationals going abroad for services including dentistry, bariatric (weight-loss) surgery, fertility services and cosmetic surgery.

Principal Investigator Dr Neil Lunt, from the University of York's Department of Social Policy and Social Work, said: "We found that many people are embarking on medical tourism with insufficient information and advice, with consequences ranging from troublesome to catastrophic.

"A sample of patients revealed that while some patients had minor or no problems following treatment abroad, others faced severe health problems which in some cases were exacerbated by an inability to ensure continuity of care or obtain patient records to address patients' needs."

The researchers conclude that GPs need support and training to enable them to advise patients not only on the broad consequences of medical tourism, but also the implications of specific forms of treatments which may present particular concerns. Bariatric (weight-loss) surgery and fertility treatment are highlighted as particular areas of concern.

They also recommend that more information and advice is provided to potential medical tourists. This, they say, needs to be packaged and disseminated so it will reach those who may not consult their GP or a specialist website before traveling.

Dr Johanna Hanefeld, Lecturer in Health Systems Economics at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said: "The people we interviewed are sometimes far from 'empowered consumers' and are failed by the current system. There is a real need for urgent policy action to address the gap in information that exists for people traveling for treatment."

The medical tourism study 'Implications for the NHS of Inward and Outward Medical Tourism' addressed four interrelated themes: patient decision-making; quality, safety and risk; economic implications; and provider and market development.

The researchers found that decision-making around outward medical travel involves a range of information sources, with the internet and information by informal networks of friends and peers, playing key roles. They conclude that medical tourists often pay more attention to 'soft' information rather than hard clinical information. They also found that there is little effective regulation of information -- be it hard or soft -- online or overseas.

Dr Daniel Horsfall, from the University of York's Department of Social Policy and Social Work, said: "We found that people traveling abroad for medical treatment are often ill-informed or under-informed and this heightens the risks associated with medical travel. For example, we found individuals willing to travel for treatments to locations that are not regulated by national laws and guidelines."

Professor Mark Exworthy, who recently joined the University of Birmingham from Royal Holloway, University of London, said: "The rise of 'medical tourism' presents new opportunities and challenges in terms of treatment options for patients and health policymakers in all countries. This study helps clarify the scale and nature of these challenges for the UK. Whilst there remains much doubt about the extent and impact of medical tourism, it is likely that these issues will become more salient in the coming years."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of York. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Lunt N, Smith RD, Mannion R, Green ST, Exworthy M, Hanefeld J, Horsfall D, Machin L, King H. Implications for the NHS of inward and outward medical tourism: a policy and economic analysis using literature review and mixed-methods approaches. Health Services and Delivery Research, Volume: 2 Issue: 2 DOI: 10.3310/hsdr02020

Cite This Page:

University of York. "British medical tourists seeking treatment overseas without sufficient information, advice." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 February 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140203191729.htm>.
University of York. (2014, February 3). British medical tourists seeking treatment overseas without sufficient information, advice. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140203191729.htm
University of York. "British medical tourists seeking treatment overseas without sufficient information, advice." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140203191729.htm (accessed September 20, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Sierra Leone's Nationwide Ebola Curfew Underway

Sierra Leone's Nationwide Ebola Curfew Underway

Newsy (Sep. 20, 2014) Sierra Leone is locked down as aid workers and volunteers look for new cases of Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Changes Found In Brain After One Dose Of Antidepressants

Changes Found In Brain After One Dose Of Antidepressants

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) A study suggest antidepressants can kick in much sooner than previously thought. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins