Australians Abroad: Are We 'Smart Travellers'?



"Increasing numbers of Australians are travelling overseas. Over the last 10 years the number of short term international departures from Australia doubled to over 9.4 million in 2015. Reported rates of travel-related illness vary, with studies estimating that 22-64% of travellers experience some form of health impairment whilst travelling, depending on the destination and season of travel. In WA, almost 8% of communicable disease notifications are for illnesses acquired overseas, however establishing an accurate picture of travel-related infections is difficult due to under diagnosis and under reporting. Delivering appropriate and effective pre-travel health advice (PTHA) to travellers may be important to reduce the risk of illness to travellers, and to prevent the importation of travel-related diseases. The average proportion of travellers seeking professional PTHA globally is approximately 48%. Travellers from Australia consistently fall below this average, especially in WA. However, the effect of PTHA on travel-related illness rates is poorly understood, and to date there are no published randomised trials evaluating the impact of PTHA outcomes. In 2016 a joint project between the WA Department of Health and The University of Western Australia was launched to address this problem. This on-line randomised trial will simultaneously test the effect of a novel on-line health intervention, and existing forms of PTHA. Preliminary results from this study will be presented. Keywords: Communicable diseases Behaviour change Key Messages: 1. Illness notifications in Australians travellers represent a significant proportion of disease notifications, particularly in Western Australia. 2. Australian travellers do not seek pre-travel health advice consistently. 3. In 2016, Western Australia launched the first randomised trial to evaluate the effect of a novel on-line health intervention. "


Chloe Thomson