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Background: Little has previously been published on the sources of health advice used by trekkers. This paper investigates the sources of advice used by a group of British trekkers and the appropriateness of the advice which they were given.

Methods: A questionnaire was issued to 107 clients of a U.K. trekking operator. Clients were asked which advice sources they had used and how useful they found them. They were also asked about advice which they had received on vaccination, antimalarial drugs, and other health precautions. The appropriateness of such advice was assessed by reference to standard advice sources used in the United Kingdom.

Results: One hundred replies were received, a response rate of 93.5%. Responders had traveled to India (10%), Nepal (45%) and Morocco (45%). The most frequently used advice sources were general medical practitioners or health centers (69%) and the tour operator (68%), many trekkers using more than one source. Specialist travel advice centers and general practitioners were rated most highly by 67% and 59% of users for usefulness and 60% and 52% of users for being informative. Other travelers were also rated highly as a source. Some appropriate vaccinations were under-recommended while others which were not appropriate were recommended. Antimalarial drugs were recommended when needed but they were sometimes recommended when not appropriate. Advice on other health risks was generally inadequate.

Conclusions: Trekkers need access to more relevant health advice. Tour operators need to have better medical information to pass on to their clients, and health professionals need more education about health risks for and the avoidance of health risks by trekkers.