Underestimation of travel-associated risks by adult and paediatric travellers compared to expert assessment: A cross-sectional study at a hospital-based family pre-travel clinic Academic Article uri icon

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  • Background

    Travellers' perception of their risk for acquiring travel-related conditions is an important contributor to decisions and behaviors during travel. In this study, we aimed to assess the differences between traveller-perceived and expert-assessed risk of travel-related conditions in children and adults travelling internationally and describe factors that influence travellers' perception of risk.


    Children and adults were recruited at the Hospital for Sick Children's Family Travel Clinic between October 2014 and July 2015. A questionnaire was administered to participants to assess their perceived risk of acquiring 32 travel-related conditions using a 7-point Likert scale. Conditions were categorized as vector-borne diseases, vaccine-preventable diseases, food and water borne diseases, sexually transmitted infections and other conditions. Two certified travel medicine experts reviewed each patient's chart and assigned a risk score based on the same 7-point Likert scale. Traveller and expert risk scores were compared using paired t-tests.


    In total, 207 participants were enrolled to participate in this study, 97 children (self-reported, n = 8; parent-reported, n = 89), and 110 adults. Travel-related risk for adults and parents answering for their children were significantly underestimated when compared to expert-assessed risk for 26 of the 32 assessed conditions. The underestimated conditions were the same for both adults and parents answering for children. Travel-related risk was not over-estimated for any condition.


    Adults underestimated their children's and their own risk for most travel-related conditions. Strategies to improve the accuracy of risk perception of travel-related conditions by travellers are needed to optimize healthy travel for children and their families.


  • Piché-Renaud, Pierre-Philippe
  • Hoang Nguyen, Jenny
  • Pell, Lisa G
  • Wei Ma, Xiao
  • Alattas, Nadia
  • Khan, Sarah
  • Schwartz, Kevin L
  • Farrar, Daniel S
  • Akseer, Nadia
  • Lam, Ray E
  • Louch, Debra
  • Science, Michelle
  • Morris, Shaun K

publication date

  • May 2022