Referral of travellers from Australia by general practitioners for travel health advice

Seelan, S. Thava, and Leggat, Peter A. (2003) Referral of travellers from Australia by general practitioners for travel health advice. Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease, 1 (3). pp. 185-188.

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Background: General practitioners (GPs) may refer travellers to practice staff and to outside agencies to assist in the provision of travel health advice and preventive measures. In Australia, little is known about the referral patterns of travellers for travel health advice by GPs in the Australian context. This study was designed to investigate how frequently GPs' practice staff became involved in providing basic travel health advice and travel vaccination and to identify referral sources and how frequently GPs referred travellers to these sources for travel health advice.

Method: In 2000, 433 GPs from western Sydney and Townsville were randomly selected from the register of the Australian Medical Association's Medical Directory of Australia database and sent self-administered questionnaires. Two reminders were sent.

Results: Two hundred and thirteen questionnaires (43%) were returned. Approximately two thirds of the sample were male (133/207, 64.3%) and one third female (74/207, 35.7%). The mean age of the GPs was 46.7 (SD±12.1) years. About one tenth of GPs reported having a Yellow Fever Licence (11.3%, 23/203). The majority of GPs did not use their practice staff for giving travel health advice (60.7%, 122/201) or giving travel vaccinations (55.7%, 112/201). More than three quarters of GPs would never refer their patients for travel health advice to GPs with a special interest in travel medicine (76.4%, 152/199), specialists (76.8%, 152/198), or other agencies (77.8%, 63/81). Almost half of GPs stated that they would refer to travel clinics at least sometimes (46.6%, 95/204).

Conclusions: GPs do sometimes refer travellers to specialised practices for travel health advice, especially to travel clinics, but also to other agencies, possibly for specialised services, such as yellow fever vaccination. Further studies may be needed on capacity of general practice staff to contribute to the travel health consultation and also the reasons and the appropriateness of the referral to outside agencies, where this occurs. Practices may need to consider further training of their auxiliary health staff in travel medicine, so that they can become more involved in the provision of travel health advice and immunization, where possible.

Item ID: 7221
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1873-0442
Keywords: Australia; general practitioners; referral practices; travel health advice; travellers
Date Deposited: 25 Mar 2010 04:59
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111799 Public Health and Health Services not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920404 Disease Distribution and Transmission (incl. Surveillance and Response) @ 100%
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