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Department of Social Sciences


Background: It is imperative that researchers studying medical tourism connect their work with policy, so that its real-world challenges can be better understood, and more effectively addressed. This article gauges the scope and evolution of

Methods: A Boolean search of the Web of Science (WoS) Core Collection was performed to identify policy-related publications on medical tourism. We analyzed the results using bibliometrics and a data visualization software called

Results: Our findings suggest that only a small proportion of medical tourism research explicitly addresses policy issues or applies policy paradigms in their study approach. Field-specialized journals serving practitioners publish less research as compared to interdisciplinary social and health policy journals. Moreover, there are significant geographical and disciplinary disparities in the policy-orientation of research, and a predilection towards select policy areas such as reproductive and transplant tourism to the neglect of more holistic governance and health system considerations.

Conclusion: This article is a call to action for greater engagement by policy scholars on medical tourism, and for health researchers to more explicitly consider how their research might contribute to the understanding and resolution of contemporary policy challenges of medical tourism. Failure to clearly and consistently make the policy connection is a lost opportunity for researchers to frame the public debate, and influence policy thinking on medical tourism.

Publisher's Statement

© 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 Publisher’s version of record:

Publication Title

Glob Health Res Policy

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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