Health Problems of Corporate Travelers: Risk Factors and Management


Reprint requests: Phyllis E. Kozarsky, MD: The Emory Clinic—Internal Medicine, 25 Prescott Street, 5th Floor, Atlanta, GA 30308.


Background: Numerous studies have been done regarding health problems experienced by tourists in developing countries; however, little data exist about these health risks and illnesses experienced by corporate travelers.

Methods: The authors examined by electronic survey the health risks encountered, compliance with pretravel health recommendations, and illnesses and injuries experienced by employees of the Coca-Cola Company who travel internationally.

Results: Two hundred twenty-six travelers responded. Although most travelers ate meals at their hotels and chose foods that were cooked and still hot, over half also ate foods that remained at room temperature for prolonged periods and/or ate from cold salad bars. Almost half drank untreated tap water. Thirty-five percent of travelers developed diarrhea and 29% reported respiratory illnesses, with 12% seeking medical attention for their problems. Forty-three percent of those traveling to malarious regions admitted to noncompliance with antimalarial recommendations. Health kits provided were used by only 51% of travelers.

Conclusions: Although many corporate travelers followed pretravel health recommendations, some did not. Injuries, fever, and illnesses such as diarrhea and respiratory infections occurred. Strategies to improve access to the travel clinic and the acquisition of health information and travel health kits are being implemented. The health risks and behaviors of corporate travelers, including the potential impact of psychosocial stressors, need greater attention.