Travel-Related Behaviors and Health Outcomes of Adolescents Compared with Adults on Short-Term International Service Missions

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  • 1 Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, Utah;
  • | 2 Division of Epidemiology, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, Utah;
  • | 3 Division of Public Health, Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, Utah;
  • | 4 Youthlinc, Salt Lake City, Utah

With an increasing number of adolescents participating in international travel, little is known about travel-related behaviors and health risks in this age group. In the years 2015–2016, we conducted an anonymous, posttravel, questionnaire-based survey with the aim to compare self-reported practices and travel-related symptoms between adolescents (< 18 years old, N = 87) and adults (≥ 18 years old, N = 149) who came to our travel clinic before their humanitarian missions. They had the same pretravel health education, and traveled together to perform similar activities. In univariate analysis, compared with adults, we found that adolescents reported less prior international travel (P < 0.001), more often wore long-sleeved clothing for malaria prevention (P < 0.001) but less often for sun protection (P = 0.009), more often used insect repellents (P = 0.011), and less often had diarrhea (P = 0.024). All other practices and health outcomes were similar between the groups. Multivariate analyses using Bayesian network show strong associations between adults and prior travel experience, and not wearing long-sleeve clothing for malaria prevention. We also found strong associations between prior international travel and sustaining an injury, and having jet lag, as well as between taking malaria prophylaxis and not having diarrhea. Overall, most practices and health outcomes were similar between age groups. Adolescent age and lack of prior international travel experience did not have significant impacts on practices and health outcomes. Our findings highlight the need for more effective strategies to improve the behaviors and health outcomes in both adolescents and adults.

Author Notes

Address correspondence to Jakrapun Pupaibool, Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Utah School of Medicine, 30 N 1900 E, Room 4B319, Salt Lake City, UT 84132-2101. E-mail: jakrapun.pupaibool@hsc.utah.edu

Financial support: This investigation was supported by the University of Utah Population Health Research (PHR) Foundation, with funding in part from the National Center for Research Resources and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health, through Grant UL1TR002538 (formerly 5UL1TR001067-05, 8UL1TR000105, and UL1RR025764). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Authors’ addresses: Jakrapun Pupaibool, Hemantha Walaliyadda, Benjamin Tasevac, In Kyu Park, Michael Graves, Peter Hale, and Daniel T. Leung, Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, UT, E-mails: jakrapun.pupaibool@hsc.utah.edu, hemwala@gmail.com, tasevac_ben@hotmail.com, ben.brintz@hsc.utah.edu, ikpark@umich.edu, michael.c.graves@dmu.edu, peter.hale@hci.utah.edu, justin@youthlinc.org, and daniel.leung@utah.edu. Ben J. Brintz, Division of Epidemiology, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, UT, E-mail: ben.brintz@hsc.utah.edu. L. Scott Benson, Division of Public Health, Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, UT, E-mail: scott.benson@hotmail.com. Justin Powell, Youthlinc, Salt Lake City, UT, E-mail: justin@youthlinc.org.

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