Original Article

Improving Medical Tourism Services through Human Behaviour and Cultural Competence


Background: Medical tourism is a type of service sector in which there is direct interaction between healthcare practitioners and patient-customers, leading to several challenges due to cultural and social background differences. We aimed to investigate the determinants of delivering a culturally-oriented service in medical tourism sector.

Methods: Adopting an exploratory qualitative approach, interviews were conducted through a semi-structured procedure with authorities across various medical sectors in South Korea in winter 2017. Participants were all involved in and aware of the medical tourism sector, both academically and clinically. The interview transcripts were coded through a systematic thematic analysis.

Results: In order to focus on non-clinical service in medical tourism sector, and a system of  cultural competence delivery, three main themes were identified: 1) The personal characteristics of doctors; 2) External supports to be provided by the associated organisations; and finally, 3) Skilfulness, which implies the culturally-oriented interaction with foreign patients.

Conclusion: Several strategies are suggested to address the non-clinical challenges and conflicts in doctor-patient interaction in the sector of medical tourism. It is likely that providing a culturally-oriented service in this sector demands for a comprehensive planning, and several strategies for implementation in order to support and train a team of skilful doctors with non-clinical characteristics. These finding will likely have insights for those organisations searching to improve their performance in the medical tourism sector.

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IssueVol 48 No 11 (2019) QRcode
SectionOriginal Article(s)
DOI https://doi.org/10.18502/ijph.v48i11.3517
Medical tourism Cultural competence Human behaviour South Korea

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How to Cite
ROKNI L, PARK S-H, AVCI T. Improving Medical Tourism Services through Human Behaviour and Cultural Competence. Iran J Public Health. 2019;48(11):1988-1996.