Background: Older people represent a significant proportion of overseas travellers. The epidemiology of older international travellers is not well described in the literature. This study aims to identify demographics, travel characteristics and the medical profile of older travellers seeking pre-travel health advice in a specialist travel medicine clinic.
Methods: Records of travellers aged 60 years and older attending the Tropical Medical Bureau clinic in Galway, Ireland between 2014 and 2018 were examined. Descriptive and inferential.analysis of data was performed.
Results: A total of 337 older travellers sought pre-travel health advice during the study period. The mean age of the cohort was 65.42 (±10) years. Most of the travellers (n = 267, 80%) had at least one travelling companion. Nearly half of older travellers (n = 155, 46.8%) were travelling with a single companion. Tourism was the main reason for travel for the majority (n = 260, 77.6%), followed by visiting friends and relatives (VFR) (n = 23, 6.9%) travellers. The mean interval remaining before the planned trip was 4.36 (±2) weeks, and the mean duration of travel was 3.16 (±1) weeks. The most popular single country of destination was India with 33 (9.8%) visitors, and South East Asia was the most popular region with 132 (39.2%) older travellers. The majority of travellers (n = 267, 79.2%) had a documented pre-existing medical condition. The most commonly reported medical conditions were hypertension (n = 26, 7.7%), dyslipidaemia (n = 18, 5.3%), diabetes mellitus (n = 12, 3.5%), insect bite sensitivity (n = 11, 3.3%), and hypothyroidism (n = 9, 2.6%). Antihypertensive agents (n = 32, 9.4%) and statins (n = 24, 7.1%) were the most frequently used medications. Typhoid (n = 112, 33.2%) and hepatitis A (n = 84, 24.9%) were the most common vaccinations administered to older travellers at the clinic.
Conclusions: This study provides an insight into the demographics, travel characteristics, and medical profile of elderly travellers seeking advice at a large travel clinic in Ireland. A wide range of travel destinations, diseases and medication use was reported among this group of travellers, which may enable travel medicine physicians to provide more tailored advice and to more appropriately counsel older travellers.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.