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Background: Traveling abroad to seek an opinion about diagnosis or treatment is a common practice in medicine, especially in the field of oncology. In Oman, patients diagnosed with cancer frequently travel with their families to seek an opinion, sometimes even before consulting a medical/surgical oncologist at home. The purpose of this study was to report and study the prevalence and motives of medical tourism amongst patients diagnosed to have cancer in Oman.
Methods: A cross sectional, retrospective study involving patients admitted to the medical oncology unit at the Sultan Qaboos University Hospital was conducted. Patients with a biopsy-proven cancer who were admitted to the wards and the day-care unit between October 2016 and March 2017 were invited to participate. A semi-structured interview consisting of 3 parts was used to obtain information on demographics, motives and satisfaction with travel.
Results: Of the 100 patients who were invited, a total of 64 patients participated in the study and completed the questionnaire. Of these 64 subjects, 24 (38%) traveled abroad to seek a second opinion. The primary reasons for traveling abroad to seek a second opinion were as follows: poor perception about health care in Oman (31%), expectations of a better healthcare overseas (12%), dissatisfaction with the communication or explanation by the healthcare providers in Oman, or concerns about delay in treatment (24%), and societal pressures (33%).
Conclusion: A significant proportion of patients traveled abroad to seek a second opinion after getting a diagnosis of cancer, main reasons being societal pressures, dissatisfaction with the communication, or concerns of delay in initiating treatment in Oman.
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