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Keywords:

  • Antiviral drugs;
  • belief;
  • influenza;
  • perception;
  • travellers

Please cite this paper as: Masuet-Aumatell et al. (2012) Prevention of influenza among travellers attending at a UK travel clinic: beliefs and perceptions. A cross-sectional study. Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses 7(4), 574–583.

Background  Travellers’ compliance with measures to prevent influenza through the use of antivirals and influenza vaccine remains very poor despite influenza being one of the commonest travel and vaccine-preventable diseases. A study was undertaken to assess travellers’ beliefs, perceptions and intentions to take antivirals for the treatment and prevention of influenza during the H1N1 pandemic.

Methods  A cross-sectional survey (n = 96) of travellers who attended the Royal Free Travel Health Centre, London, UK was undertaken in September 2009. A self-administered questionnaire was completed by a traveller in advance of their pre-travel health consultation. Logistic regression identified variables independently associated with compliance.

Results  Influenza vaccination uptake for the 5 years preceding the study was found to be 20·8%. This was statistically significantly higher for older travellers and those with underlying health conditions (P < 0·005). Mean intention to comply with antiviral drugs on a preventive and therapeutic basis was 58% and 72%, respectively, and this varied markedly with age and with dispensed antimalarial chemoprophylaxis.

Conclusion  This study identifies some beliefs and perceptions travellers consider with regard to the therapeutic and preventive influenza use of antivirals during the H1N1 pandemic; it underscores the importance of travellers receiving hemisphere appropriate influenza vaccination. The external validity of these study findings requires further corroboration involving other travel clinics and different cohorts of travellers during seasonal activity or outbreaks of influenza. These findings could guide the development of future strategies for the prevention of influenza in travellers.