Medical and psychological problems faced by young Australian gap year travellers

Furuya-Kanamori, Luis, Mills, Deborah, Sheridan, Sarah and Lau, Colleen (2017) Medical and psychological problems faced by young Australian gap year travellers. Journal of Travel Medicine, 24 5: . doi:10.1093/jtm/tax052

Author Furuya-Kanamori, Luis
Mills, Deborah
Sheridan, Sarah
Lau, Colleen
Title Medical and psychological problems faced by young Australian gap year travellers
Journal name Journal of Travel Medicine   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1195-1982
Publication date 2017-09-01
Year available 2017
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1093/jtm/tax052
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 24
Issue 5
Total pages 5
Place of publication Cary, NC United States
Publisher Oxford University Press
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Background: Gap year travellers can potentially be exposed to many infectious diseases and other travel-related health problems including injuries and psychological problems. Currently, there is little information on health and wellbeing of this particular group of travellers.

Methods: Participants were recruited from an organization that specialized in organising international gap year placements. Gap year travellers were asked to complete a pre-departure survey on demographics, placement destination and duration, previous travel experience, hobbies, risk taking behaviour, anticipated problems during the placement, and pre-travel preparations. After the placement, participants were asked to complete a post-trip survey on their experiences, problems, health issues, and medical treatment required.

Results: The 88 and 34 gap year travellers aged 17–23 years completed pre- and post-placement surveys respectively. The duration of placements ranged from 3 to 12 months. Psychological stressors were frequently reported [n = 26 (76.5%) felt home sick; n = 18 (52.9%) experienced culture shock; n = 17 (50.0%) had difficulty communicating with the locals]. The majority of participants (91.2%) tried to work out a solution for the stressor on their own. Twenty-eight (82.4%) participants reported medical problems during their placement; the most common problems were sunburn (n = 19; 55.9%), respiratory infections (n = 15; 44.1%), weight change (n = 14; 41.2%), and diarrhoea/food poisoning (n = 13; 38.2%). Three participants (3.4%) were admitted to hospital; for a muscle injury, head injury and skin infection after getting a tribal tattoo.

Conclusions: Psychological stressors were common, but most did not seek help. Some medical problems encountered during their placement may have been preventable with improved pre-departure preparation.
Keyword Gap year
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Grant ID 1109035
Institutional Status Non-UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: HERDC Pre-Audit
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