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Enabling clinicians to easily find location-based travel health recommendations—is innovation needed?
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Details:
  • Pubmed ID:
    29788401
  • Pubmed Central ID:
    PMC5991802
  • Description:
    Background

    The types of place names and the level of geographic detail that patients report to clinicians regarding their intended travel itineraries vary. The reported place names may not match those in published travel health recommendations, making traveler-specific recommendations potentially difficult and time-consuming to identify. Most published recommendations are at the country level; however, subnational recommendations exist when documented disease risk varies within a country, as for malaria and yellow fever. Knowing the types of place names reported during consultations would be valuable for developing more efficient ways of searching and identifying recommendations, hence we inventoried these descriptors and identified patterns in their usage.

    Methods

    The data analyzed were previously collected individual travel itineraries from pretravel consultations performed at Global TravEpiNet (GTEN) travel clinic sites. We selected a clinic-stratified random sample of records from 18 GTEN clinics that contained responses to an open-ended question describing itineraries. We extracted and classified place names into nine types and analyzed patterns relative to common travel-related demographic variables.

    Results

    From the 1756 itineraries sampled, 1570 (89%) included one or more place names, totaling 3366 place names. The frequency of different types of place names varied considerably: 2119 (63%) populated place, 336 (10%) tourist destination, 283 (8%) physical geographic area, 206 (6%) vague subnational area, 163 (5%) state, 153 (5%) country, 48 (1%) county, 12 (1%) undefined.

    Conclusions

    The types of place names used by travelers to describe travel itineraries during pretravel consultations were often different from the ones referenced in travel health recommendations. This discrepancy means that clinicians must use additional maps, atlases or online search tools to cross-reference the place names given to the available recommendations. Developing new clinical tools that use geographic information systems technology would make it easier and faster for clinicians to find applicable recommendations for travelers.

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