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European Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine 2013 December;49(6):829-36

Copyright © 2014 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

lingua: Inglese

Medical tourism: evidence from an Italian descriptive survey on pediatric neurorehabilitation treatment abroad

Trabacca A. 1, Ricci S. 2, Russo L. 1, Gennaro L. 1, Losito L. 1, De Rinaldis M. 1, Paloscia C. 3

1 Unit of Neurorehabilitation I Developmental Neurology and Functional Rehabilitation Regional Reference Centre for Diagnosis and Treatment of Cerebral Palsy and Severe Acquired Brain Injury in Childhood and Adolescence Scientific Institute I.R.C.C.S. “Eugenio Medea” – “La Nostra Famiglia”, Brindisi, Italy; 2 Department of Planning and Organization of the National Health Service Italian Ministry of Health, Rome, Italy; 3 Rehabilitation Center “La Nostra Famiglia” Association, Brindisi, Italy


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Background: In recent years we have witnessed a rapidly-growing tendency to seek neurorehabilitation abroad.
Aim: This study aimed at better understanding this practice through a analysis of the authorizations for pediatric neurorehabilitation services issued by Italian Regions.
Design: Descriptive retrospective survey study.
Setting: Outpatient.
Population: Italian children travelling abroad for neurorehabilitation.
Methods: We analyzed the number of authorizations granted in the 2008-2011 period by local health agencies of Italian regions to children aged 0-18 years applying for neurorehabilitation services abroad. Information was obtained from the Ministry of Health database management systems.
Results: Our analysis showed an extreme variability across Italian regions. This is probably suggestive of an unbalanced offer of pediatric neurorehabilitation services across regions, different mechanisms used to control the phenomenon.
Conclusion: Our study looked specifically at the practice of neurorehabilitation abroad in order to encourage further and larger studies, even at international level. A greater integration of health systems with common policies is to be achieved in order to control this phenomenon in a field as sensitive as pediatric neurorehabilitation.
Clinical rehabilitation impact: Our study, which is the only study so far focusing on pediatric neurorehabilitation, looked specifically at the practice of health tourism in order to encourage further and larger studies, even at international level. Health tourism is a critical issue for all Western welfare systems which are under a pressure to cut health-related expenses.

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