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Communication needs of medical tourists: an exploratory study in Thailand

Anothai Ngamvichaikit (Management Science Faculty, Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University, Nonthaburi, Thailand)
Rian Beise-Zee (Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University 1-1 Jumonjibaru, Beppu, Oita, Japan)

International Journal of Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Marketing

ISSN: 1750-6123

Article publication date: 1 April 2014




The aim of this paper is to contribute a conceptualization of the information and communication needs of medical tourists from Western countries in an Asian health care context.


Multi-phase, semi-structured, in-depth interviews and observations were conducted with 27 multi-source informants who have communication experience in the international healthcare setting.


Multi-level information provision should be used to address communicative incongruence in Asian healthcare provider – Western patient encounters as was self-reported by the participants and observed by authors. The use of an informative communication model is proposed in order to facilitate interaction and the effective transfer of information with Western patients to overcome negative, underlying emotions and enable autonomous decision making by the patients.

Research limitations/implications

This exploratory study is focused on Western patients and Asian practitioners in Thailand. Future research in other countries and with patients from other geographical areas could expand to generalize findings.

Practical implications

Fostering information sharing with Western patients by using an integrative communication model can improve patient satisfaction and health outcomes. The need for developing and implementing these improved practices for communicating with Western patients is reflected by the healthcare industry's current developmental trends helping to lead to a future of health service internationalization.


This is the first empirical study to provide insights concerning the communication needs and coping strategies of Western patients with Asian doctors in developing countries.



The authors are grateful to Dr Willi Zimmerman and Dr Apichati Sivayathorn for their valuable feedback on the data analysis.


Ngamvichaikit, A. and Beise-Zee, R. (2014), "Communication needs of medical tourists: an exploratory study in Thailand", International Journal of Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Marketing, Vol. 8 No. 1, pp. 98-117.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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