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Department of Social Sciences


Medical tourism occupies different spaces within national policy frameworks depending on which side of the transnational paradigm countries belong to, and how they seek to leverage it towards their developmental goals. This article draws attention to this policy divide in transnational healthcare through a comparative bibliometric review of policy research on medical tourism in select source (Canada, United States and United Kingdom) and destination countries (Mexico, India, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore), using a systematic search of the Web of Science (WoS) database and review of grey literature. We assess cross-national differences in policy and policy research on medical tourism against contextual policy landscapes and challenges, and examine the convergence between research and policy. Our findings indicate major disparities in development agendas and national policy concerns, both between and among source and destination countries. Further, we find that research on medical tourism does not always address prevailing policy challenges, just as the policy discourse oftentimes neglects relevant policy research on the subject. Based on our review, we highlight the limited application of theoretical policy paradigms in current medical tourism research and make the case for a comparative policy research agenda for the field.

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© The Author(s). 2020 Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.

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Global Health

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


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