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Revista Lasallista de Investigación

Print version ISSN 1794-4449


GOMEZ GARCIA, Carlos Andrés. Health tourism: A form of medicalization of society?. Rev. Lasallista Investig. [online]. 2017, vol.14, n.2, pp.51-64. ISSN 1794-4449.


Postmodernity is characterized among many of its typologies by extreme consumerism. In different countries, market logic extends from product circulation on the market to the configuration of the right to health services, to such an extent that pharmaceutical, clinical, cosmetics science and tourism multinationals would seem to have gained total control of biomedical sciences. A control of people's right to health services by the market can thus be observed. In fact, an indicative sign of this reality is a significant increase in the medicalization of society, since habitual problems of human existence are treated as medical problems. In our environment, it is common to see a great amount of treatments, medication, and cosmetic and nutritional products being used to give sanitary response to problems which are not medical a priori, such as aging, unhappiness, social isolation, shyness, among others.


Show the relationship between health tourism and the medicalization of society, from bioethics and biolaw perspectives.

Materials and methods.

This article reports on a qualitative documentary investigation that seeks to bring together methodologies typical of bioethics and legal hermeneutics.


This work shows how health tourism is related to the medicalization of society, since the former is shown in many cases as a life experience into which medical treatment can be "packaged", commercially speaking; tourist experiences offer, along with cosmetic treatments, surgery and hospitalization, spa services and private medical home care.


Health tourism, seen from a bioethics perspective, would seem to be redefining the doctor-patient relationship, turning it from service assistance to a commercial relationship between a service operator and a client in which profit, not medical assistance, prevails; thus the patients are reduced to the capacity they have to pay for the different medical services offered.

Keywords : Bioethics; biolaw; medical right; tourism; medicalization of society.

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