Health Tourism Prevalence among Western Balkans Citizens During the COVID-19 Pandemic Period

Drita Maljichi1, Bernard Tahirbegolli2, 3, *, Driton Maljichi4, Iliriana Alloqi Tahirbegolli2, 5, Troy E. Spier6, Ahmed Kulanić7, 8, Irida Agolli Nasufi9, Milica Kovač-Orlandić10
1 Management in Tourism and Hospitality Department, Pjeter Budi College, Prishtina, Kosovo
2 Department of Health Institutions and Services Management and Nursing Department, Heimerer College, Prishtina, Kosovo
3 National Sports Medicine Centre, Prishtina, Kosovo
4 Institute for Sociological, Political and Juridical Research, University St. Cyril and Methodius, Skopje, North Macedonia
5 Hematology Clinic, University Clinical Center of Kosovo, Prishtina, Kosovo
6 Department of English, Florida A&M University, Florida, USA
7 Institute for Bosniak Studies, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Balkans
8 Research Center for Neighbouring Countries and Regions, Istanbul Ticaret University, Istanbul, Turkey
9 Social Science Department, University of Tirana, Tirana, Albania
10 Faculty of Legal Sciences, University Donja Gorica, Podgorica, Montenegro

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© 2023 Maljichi et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondende to this author at the Department of Health Institutions and Services Management and Nursing Department, Heimerer College, Kolegji Heimerer, Veranda D4, Hyrja C dhe D Lagja Kalabri 10000 Prishtina, Kosovo; Tel: 0038343958477; E-mail:



This study seeks to evaluate the prevalence of and the association between receiving medical care abroad and the level of trust that citizens from the Western Balkans—Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Montenegro—have in their healthcare systems.


The study is cross-sectional and was carried out during three months (July 25-October 30, 2021) through a self-reported questionnaire administered through the Google Forms platform. The study included approximately two-thousand citizens (N=2,356) aged eighteen (18) to seventy (70).


More than one-third (37.2%) of respondents stated that they or a relative had received healthcare services abroad during the last twelve (12) months. Citizens of Montenegro had the highest prevalence of receiving healthcare services abroad at 43.8%, followed by those from Bosnia and Herzegovina at 39%. No statistically significant difference was found in the level of trust in the healthcare system in the country between those who received healthcare services abroad (4.41±2.88) (out of 10) and those who did not (4.48±2.81) (t= -0.587, p=0.557).


We ultimately conclude that more than one-third of the participants in our study have traveled abroad for healthcare purposes, with females, those living in urban areas, and those who have previously had a negative healthcare experience in their home country all being more likely to rely on health tourism.

Keywords: COVID-19, Healthcare, Health tourism, Healthcare services, Pandemic, Medical care.