Sunday, 8 June 2014

New article: "Solidarity by demand? Exit and voice in international medical travel – The case of Indonesia"

New article out!

Ormond, M. (2014) "Solidarity by demand? Exit and voice in international medical travel – The case of Indonesia", Social Science and Medicine. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2014.06.007  -


• Embeds international medical travel in travellers’ home health system struggles.
• Conceptualises international medical travel as a form of political engagement.
• Analyses the impacts of international medical travel on travellers’ home contexts.
• Provides evidence of political and social change at micro and macro levels.
• Offers novel insight into the impacts of Indonesian medical travel on Indonesia.


Globally, more patients are intentionally travelling abroad as consumers for medical care. However, while scholars have begun to examine international medical travel's (IMT) impacts on the people and places that receive medical travellers, study of its impacts on medical travellers' home contexts has been negligible and largely speculative. While proponents praise IMT's potential to make home health systems more responsive to the needs of market-savvy healthcare consumers, critics identify it as a way to further de-politicise the satisfaction of healthcare needs. This article draws from work on political consumerism, health advocacy and social movements to argue for a reframing of IMT not as a 'one-off' statement about or an event external to struggles over access, rights and recognition within medical travellers' home health systems but rather as one of a range of critical forms of on-going engagement embedded within these struggles. To do this, the limited extant empirical work addressing domestic impacts of IMT is reviewed and a case study of Indonesian medical travel to Malaysia is presented. The case study material draws from 85 interviews undertaken in 2007-08 and 2012 with Indonesian and Malaysian respondents involved in IMT as care recipients, formal and informal care-providers, intermediaries, promoters and policy-makers. Evidence from the review and case study suggests that IMT may effect political and social change within medical travellers' home contexts at micro and macro levels by altering the perspectives, habits, expectations and accountability of, and complicity among, medical travellers, their families, communities, formal and informal intermediaries, and medical providers both within and beyond the container of the nation-state. Impacts are conditioned by the ideological foundations underpinning home political and social systems; the status of a medical traveller's ailment or therapy; and the existence of organised support for recognition and management of these in the home context.


Political consumerism; Healthcare advocacy; Health social movements; Medical tourism; Citizenship; Resistance; Indonesia; Malaysia

Media coverage
International Medical Travel Journal. (2014) ‘Malaysia, Indonesia: New study highlights impact of medical travel on domestic healthcare’, IMTJ, 7 August. Available HTTP: