Travelers' Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices on Prevention of Infectious Diseases: Results from a Pilot Study


  • This study has been supported by an unrestricted educational research grant from GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals (Rixensart, Belgium) and Novartis (Basle, Switzerland).

  • The authors had no financial or other conflicts of interest to disclose.

Koen Van Herck, MD, Centre for the Evaluation of Vaccination, WHO Collaborating Centre for Prevention and Control of Viral Hepatitis Epidemiology and Social Medicine, University of Antwerp, Universiteitsplein, 1 B-2610 Antwerp, Belgium.


Background The European Travel Health Advisory Board conducted a cross-sectional pilot survey to evaluate current travel health knowledge, attitudes, and practice (KAP) and to determine where travelers going to developing countries obtain travel health information, what information they receive, and what preventive travel health measures they employ.

Method Trained interviewers invited passengers at the departure gates of three international airports: London Heathrow, Paris Charles de Gaulle, and Munich to respond to a self-completion questionnaire. A total of 609 responses were collected.

Results The study showed that more than one-third of travelers questioned had not sought pretravel health advice and of those who did, over 20% sought advice 14 days or less prior to travel. One-third of the respondents were aged 50 or more, and 20% had planned their trip less than 2 weeks before leaving. Only a minority were able to demonstrate that they had been immunised as per the World Health Organization or national recommendations. Respondents often misperceived both the risk of malaria at the destination and recommended preventive measures.

Conclusions The results of this pilot survey provided a valuable insight into the KAP of travelers and highlighted an important educational need among those traveling to risk destinations. Strategies are needed for raising awareness of preventable travel health issues and for raising compliance with existing recommendations.