Introduction: Singapore has a fast-growing travel industry, but few studies have been done on travel characteristics and travel health practices. This study describes the profile and health-seeking behaviour of travellers attending a travel health clinic in Singapore.Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional survey was conducted on travellers attending the Traveller’s Health and Vaccination Centre (THVC) between September and November 2002 using a standardised questionnaire. Information obtained included individual demographic and medical information, travel patterns, vaccination status and travel health practices. Results: Four hundred and ninety-five (74%) eligible travellers seen at THVC responded to the questionnaire. Their mean age was 36 years; 77% were professionals, managers, executives, and businessmen, students, and white collar workers. Asia was the main travel destination, and most travelled for leisure and resided in hotels or hostels. The median duration of travel was 16 days. Although >90% had previously travelled overseas, only 20% had previously sought pre-travel advice. Malays were significantly underrepresented (P <0.01); and Caucasians and Eurasians were significantly more likely (P <0.01) to have previously sought pre-travel advice compared with Chinese, Indians and Malays. Factors associated with seeking pre-travel advice included travel outside of Asia, especially Africa and South America. Conclusion: Singaporean travellers travel more often to cities rather than rural areas, compared with non-Asian travellers. Asia is the preferred destination, and travel outside of Asia is perceived as more risky and is associated with seeking pre-travel advice and vaccinations. Travel patterns and behaviours need to be taken into account when developing evidence-based travel medicine in Asia.
The South-east Asian region has seen recent increases in travel, and pre-travel health advice is important in protecting these travellers from risks. Travellers now travel to destinations with high disease risks.
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