A description of travel medicine in general practice: A postal questionnaire survey

Hoveyda, N; McDonald, P; Behrens, RH; (2004) A description of travel medicine in general practice: A postal questionnaire survey. Journal of travel medicine, 11 (5). pp. 295-299. ISSN 1195-1982

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Background: Travel-related diseases are important aspects of public health. The number of UK residents traveling abroad is increasing at a rate of 16% a year, thereby increasing exposure to travel-related morbidity. Provision of comprehensive pretravel health advice is essential to reduce this trend. In the UK, pretravel health advice is predominantly provided through general practices. Methods: A postal questionnaire was sent to all 91 general practices in South Cheshire Health Authority. The questionnaires were to be completed by the lead advisor in travel medicine for each practice. Questions were asked on service provision, training and reference resources used, subjects advised on, and health promotion material used. Nonresponders were contacted and sent a further questionnaire. Results: A response rate of 86% (78/91) was achieved. Of the lead advisors, 97% were nurses and 3% general practitioners. Thirty-eight sources of advice were quoted, the commonest of which comprised wall immunization charts (72%). Duration of consultation ranged from less than 5 min to over 30 min, with a median and mode of 11 to 15 min. Most respondents reported advising on most travel-associated risks, 40% of practices lacked a protocol, and 83% of providers had attended a training course on travel medicine for 2 days or less. Conclusions: This survey identified inadequacies of training and use of multiple sources of reference which may lead to inconsistencies in advice. Most practitioners could not define their workload in travel medicine. For effective protection of travelers, a careful risk assessment, clear risk communication and health education with detailed health promotion are necessary, but these are not likely to be provided within an average consultation time of 11 to 15 min. There is no evidence of consistent governance, planned training and monitoring of service quality of travel medicine practice. This may be due to lack of a national policy on best practice and guidance in this subject. National protocols with validated information resources, set standards of training, along with adequate consultation time for educating, advising, and prescribing, will lead to improved health of the traveling public.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: INTERNATIONAL TRAVELERS, RISK BEHAVIOR, PRACTITIONERS, MALARIA, ABROAD, UK, Communicable Disease Control, Family Practice, education, Great Britain, Health Care Surveys, Health Promotion, Physician's Practice Patterns, Quality of Health Care, Travel
Faculty and Department: Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases > Dept of Clinical Research
Research Centre: Malaria Centre
PubMed ID: 15544713
Web of Science ID: 224181400005
URI: http://researchonline.lshtm.ac.uk/id/eprint/6380


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