Document Type: Original Article
College of Medicine, University of Sharjah, Sharjah, UAE
Consultant Infectious Diseases, University Hospital Sharjah (UHS), Sharjah, UAE
Family & Community Medicine & Behavioral Sciences Department, College of Medicine, University of Sharjah, Sharjah, UAE
Introduction: Among the United Arab Emirates (UAE) population more and more people now consider travelling abroad. This is potentially problematic because travelling enhances exposure between hosts and pathogens and so people that travel are putting their health at risk. This concern makes it necessary that public education is provided to inform people of the risks of travelling abroad so that such risks can be minimized. Guidelines and advice on travelling abroad are available and easily accessible but several studies have shown that travellers do not always follow such advice. In this study, the aim was to look into the practices and attitudes of UAE residents in relation to prevention of travel-related infectious diseases.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted from February to April 2015, in different emirates of the UAE. A self-administered anonymous questionnaire was developed based on material acquired from similar studies. The methodology applied quota sampling whereby adults above the age of 18 who’d travelled abroad in the past year were chosen from the seven emirates. The number of participants selected from each emirate was proportionate to the population size of each state.
Results: A total of 385 questionnaires were completed. A remarkable 70% of respondents indicated that they had not taken on any precautionary measures prior to travel. Of greater interest was that only 21% of participants had taken advice on health prior to travel, while the outstanding majority 79% reported that they had not taken advice. The most common source of advice had been taken from family and friends among those who had taken advice at 41%, while only 15.4% had acquired it from specialized travel medicine clinics. High risk perception, spending more preparation time and travelling for longer durations were important factors that encouraged pretrial health consultation and undertook preventive measures.
Conclusion: This study revealed that UAE residents had not taken adequate measures to prevent travel related infectious diseases. Despite the limitations of this study, it still provides sufficient data to improve public health intervention directed at encouraging travellers to acquire pre travel health consultation.