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Background. International travel to developing countries is increasing with rising levels of disposable income; this trend is seen in both adults and children. Risk-taking attitude is fundamental to research on the prevention of risky health behaviors, which can be an indicator of the likelihood of experiencing illness or injury during travel. The aim of this study is to investigate whether risk-taking attitudes of youths are associated with travel characteristics and likelihood of experiencing illness or injury while traveling to nonindustrialized countries.
Methods. Data were analyzed from the 2008 YouthStyles survey, an annual mail survey gathering demographics and health knowledge, attitudes, and practices of individuals from 9 through 18 years of age. Travelers were defined as respondents who reported traveling in the last 12 months to a destination other than the United States, Canada, Europe, Japan, Australia, or New Zealand. Risk-taking attitude was measured by using a four-item Brief Sensation-Seeking Scale. All p values ≤0.05 were considered significant.
Results. Of 1,704 respondents, 131 (7.7%) traveled in the last 12 months. Females and those with higher household income were more likely to travel (odds ratio = 1.6,1.1). Of those who traveled, 16.7% reported seeking pretravel medical care, with most visiting a family doctor for that care (84.0%). However, one-fifth of respondents reported illness and injury during travel; of these, 83.3% traveled with their parents. Males and older youths had higher mean sensation-seeking scores. Further, travelers had a higher mean sensation-seeking score than nontravelers. Those who did not seek pretravel medical care also had higher mean sensation-seeking scores (p = 0.1, not significant).
Conclusions. Our results show an association between risk-taking attitudes and youth travel behavior. However, adult supervision during travel and parental directives prior to travel should be taken into consideration. Communication messages should emphasize the importance of pretravel advice, target parents of children who are traveling, and be communicated through family doctors.