Medical Tourism Patient Mortality: Considerations From a 10-Year Review of Global News Media Representations

Medical Tourism Patient Mortality: Considerations From a 10-Year Review of Global News Media Representations

Alicia Mason (Pittsburg State University, USA), Sakshi Bhati (Pittsburg State University, USA), Ran Jiang (Soochow University, China) and Elizabeth A. Spencer (University of Kentucky, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3576-9.ch011

Abstract

Medical tourism is a process in which a consumer travels from one's place of residence and receives medical treatment, thus becoming a patient. Patients Beyond Borders (PBB) forecasts some 1.9 million Americans will travel outside the United States for medical care in 2019. This chapter explores media representations of patient mortality associated with medical tourism within the global news media occurring between 2009-2019. A qualitative content analysis of 50 patient mortality cases found that (1) a majority of media representations of medical tourism patient death are of middle-class, minority females between 25-55 years of age who seek cosmetic surgery internationally; (2) sudden death, grief, and bereavement counseling is noticeably absent from medical tourism providers (MTPs); and (3) risk information from authority figures within the media reports is often vague and abstract. A detailed list of health communication recommendations and considerations for future medical tourists and their social support systems are provided.
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History Of Medical Tourism In Western Media

Medical tourism, sometimes referred to as ‘healing holidays,’ ‘medical voyages,’ and ‘therapeutic journeys’ have appeared in U.S. print news publications as far back as the 1870’s. These publications often use travel narratives and promotional advertising placements to attract ‘health seekers.’ Health seekers in this era were often invalids, those with incipient consumption, and TB patients. As a result of westward U.S. expansion and improved railway transportation, newspaper advertising in the early 1890’s attracted health seekers with the allure of ‘palatial day coaches’ and ‘salubrious and health-giving environments,’ (St. John’s, 1907).

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