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17:40Who goes abroad for fertility treatment and why?
A substantial number of European patients travel to other countries for
fertility treatment, both because they think that they will receive
better quality care abroad and in order to undergo procedures that are
banned in their home country says a study of the subject launched at
the 25th annual conference of the European Society of Human
Reproduction and Embryology today (Monday June 29). Study co-ordinator
Dr. Françoise Shenfield, from University College Hospital, London, UK,
said that this was the first hard evidence of considerable fertility
patient migration within Europe. "Until now we have only had anecdotal
evidence of this phenomenon", she said. "We think that our results will
be of considerable value to patients, doctors, and policymakers."
During a one-month period, the ESHRE Task Force analysed data from
participating clinics in six European countries: Belgium, the Czech
Republic, Denmark, Slovenia, Spain and Switzerland. Clinics were asked
to provide questionnaires to patients coming from abroad for treatment.
The questionnaires asked about their age, country of residence, reasons
for travelling to another country for treatment, which treatment they
had received, whether they had received information in their own
language, how they had chosen the centre they were attending, and
whether they had received reimbursement from their home country's
Almost two-thirds of the patients surveyed came from four countries, with the largest number coming from Italy (31.8%), followed by Germany (14.4%), the Netherlands (12.1%) and France (8.7%). In total, people from 49 countries crossed borders for fertility treatment.
The main reason for going abroad for fertility was to avoid legal restrictions at home. 80.6% of the German patients surveyed have this as their primary reason, 71.6% of Norwegians, 70.6% of Italians, and 64.5% of French. Difficulties of access to treatment were cited more by patients from the UK (34.0%) than those from other countries.
Age also played an important part in the decision to travel for treatment. The average age across all countries was over 37.5, but German and UK patients tended to have a much higher age profile with 51.1% of Germans being aged over 40 and 63.5% of British. Civil status also varied between countries; overall 69.9% of all women were married and only 6.1% single. But 82% of Italian women were married, while 50% of French women were cohabiting (often in same sex couples), and 43.4% of Swedish women were single.
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