FRIDAY, Nov. 5 (HealthDay News) -- About half of the 30 million
Americans who travel each year to lower-income countries seek
advice about potential health risks before heading abroad, new
The survey of more than 1,200 international travelers departing
the United States at Boston Logan International Airport found that
38 percent were traveling to low- or middle-income nations. Only 54
percent of those travelers sought health advice prior to their
trip, and foreign-born travelers were the least likely to have done
so, said the Massachusetts General Hospital researchers.
Lack of concern about potential health problems was the most
commonly cited reason for not seeking health information before
departure to a poorer nation.
Of those who did try to find health information about their
destination, the Internet was the most common source, followed by
primary-care doctors, the study authors found.
The study was a collaboration involving Massachusetts General
Hospital, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the
Boston Public Health Commission and the Massachusetts Port
Authority. The findings, published in the November/December issue
Journal of Travel Medicine, may be used to develop new methods of educating travelers about potential health risks, such as malaria, typhoid, dengue fever and hepatitis, the researchers said.
"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."
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more