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Background

Up to 65% of travelers to less developed countries report health problems while traveling. International travel is an increasing concern for health practitioners. To date, there have not been any published analyses of mortality amongst foreign nationals visiting Thailand. Our objectives are to examine the magnitude and characterize the deaths among foreign nationals in Chiang Mai, a popular tourist province in Thailand.

Methods

The study commenced with a review of the Thai death registration. Death certificates were retrieved, reviewed, and classified by the causes of death. Basic statistics and proportionate mortality ratio (PMR) were used to describe the pattern of deaths. Standardized mortality ratio (SMR) was used to assess the excess mortality risk among foreign nationals.

Results

Between January 1, 2010 and May 31, 2011, there were 1,295 registered deaths in Chiang Mai City, of which 102 records (7.9%) were foreign nationals. Median age of decedents was 64 years (range 14–102 y). Female–to–male ratio was 1 : 5.4. The highest mortality was among Europeans (45.1%). Most of the deaths were natural causes (89.2%) including 36 cardiac diseases (PMR = 35.3) and 20 malignancy diseases (PMR = 19.6). Deaths due to external causes were low. The SMRs range between 0.15 and 0.30.

Conclusion

Communicable diseases and injuries were not the leading causes of death among foreign nationals visiting Chiang Mai, Thailand. It is essential that travelers are aware of mortality risk associated with their underlying diseases and that they are properly prepared to handle them while traveling.