Most US Travelers Don’t Seek Advice on Health Issues

When it comes to health issues and risks related to travel, US tourists are highly uninformed and don’t bother to try get the information which might prove crucial on their trip. New research shows that only half of the 30 million US citizens that travel each year to lower-income countries seek advice about potential health risks before starting their journey.

The conclusion was drawn after a survey of over 1,200 international travelers departing the United States at Boston Logan International Airport. Carried out by Massachusetts General Hospital researchers, the survey found that 38 percent were traveling to low- or middle-income nations and only 54 percent of those travelers sought health advice prior to their trip. Of the US travelers, foreign-born travelers were the least likely to seek such advice.

The most important reason not to inquire about health risks is the blatant lack of concern about potential health problems.

US travelers who actually wanted to get health information on their destinations used mostly the Internet as a source, followed by primary-care doctors.

“These results suggest that the Internet and [primary-care doctors] are two promising avenues for disseminating information about traveling safely. Offering online resources at the time of ticket purchase or through popular travel Web sites would likely reach a large audience of people in need of health advice,” study lead author Dr. Regina C. LaRocque, of Mass. General’s division of infectious diseases, said in a hospital news release.

“International travel is the primary way many infections traverse the world,” senior author Dr. Edward Ryan, director of the Tropical and Geographic Medicine Center at the hospital, said in the news release. “What many people don’t realize is that, without seeking the correct health information, they are putting themselves at increased risk of infection, as well as creating a public health risk in their home communities after they return.”

More information on travelers’ health available at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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