Impact of pre-departure preparation on the health and wellbeing of Australian gap year travellers

Luis Furuya-Kanamori*, Colleen L. Lau, Sarah Banks, Deborah J. Mills

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    2 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Background: Medical problems are prevalent among young travellers. A quasi-experimental study was conducted to investigate the impact of country-specific pre-departure preparation in the occurrence of medical and psychological problems among Australian gap year. Methods: Participants were recruited during two periods, 2013-14 and 2017-18 from an organisation that specialises in gap year placements. Based on results of our previous study of the 2013-14 cohort, improvements in the pre-departure preparation were introduced. Demographic, placement, and pre-departure preparation characteristics as well as psychological stressors, coping mechanisms, and medical problems were collected and compared between the two cohorts. Results: Demographic and placement characteristics were similar between the two cohorts. There was a significant increase in the proportion of travellers that read the briefing material (from 80% to 100%; p-value<0.001), carried a first aid kit (from 26% to 62%; p-value<0.001), and accessed information on how to deal with common health problems (from 46% to 61%; p-value = 0.047). All psychological stressors decreased, except for feeling home sick that remained high (72%). Medical problems remained prevalent; half of the gap year travellers sought medical attention, yet there was a significant reduction in sunburn (from 59% to 37%; p-value = 0.040), diarrhoea/food poisoning (from 44% to 21%; p-value = 0.015), weight change (from 41% to 16%; p-value = 0.006), and skin infections (from 38% to 9%; p-value<0.001). Conclusions: Gap year travellers are exposed to a wide range of health risks and experience higher proportion of medical problems than standard tourists. A comprehensive country-specific pre-departure preparation had a positive impact on the gap year travellers’ wellbeing.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number101682
    JournalTravel Medicine and Infectious Disease
    Volume37
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2020

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