Health Disparities among Travelers Visiting Friends and Relatives Abroad

Angell, Sonia Y.; Cetron, Martin S.
January 2005
Annals of Internal Medicine;1/4/2005, Vol. 142 Issue 1, p67
Academic Journal
For an estimated 10 million trips abroad by U.S. residents in 2002, "visiting friends and relatives" (VFR) was a purpose for travel. Made up largely of foreign-born U.S. residents and their children, this population shows disparities in the number of reported cases of many preventable travel-related illnesses compared with people who travel for other purposes, such as tourism. High-risk illnesses in VFR travelers include childhood vaccine-preventable illnesses, hepatitis A and B, tuberculosis, malaria, and typhoid fever. Gaps in the prevalence of disease and access to care both between countries and within the United States uniquely influence disease risk in this population of travelers. We describe this population, a framework for understanding travel-related health disparities, and recommendations for improving the effective delivery of preventive travel-related care to VFR travelers. In addition to transnational efforts to control and eradicate disease, preventing illness in U.S. resident VFR travelers requires focused efforts to remove barriers to their care. In the United States, barriers exist at the systems level (for example, low insurance coverage), patient level (for example, misperception of disease risk), and provider level (for example, inadequate knowledge of travel medicine).


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