What is Pre-travel Risk Assessment?
Travelling can expose you to certain risks of acquiring various diseases. These risks need to be identified and evaluated in order to decide on appropriate preventive recommendations before you travel.
Pre-travel assessment is a process to identify the hazards you might be exposed to and evaluate the health risks associated with those hazards.
What do Pre-travel Risk Assessments Involve?
The process involves a complete information gathering about you (mainly health background), your destination, trip itinerary and travel time. If you are traveling for work purposes, the assessment also includes occupational risks.
Who Needs Pre-travel Risk Assessments?
Though the process is generic for every traveler, it is particularly recommended if you:
- Have heart or lung issues
- Have diabetes mellitus
- Travel for an extended period
- Visit remote locations when traveling
Appropriate Time for Pre-travel Risk Assessments
The ideal time for pre-travel risk assessments is four to six weeks before your travel. It can be earlier if you:
- Have a complex medical history
- Plan to travel for a prolonged period
- Have a complex travel itinerary
Key Elements of Pre-travel Risk Assessments
The factors that are likely to be considered for pre-travel risk assessments include, but are not limited to:
- Age and gender
- Health background
- Past medical history
- Drug history
- Present health status
- Vaccination history
- Risk behavior
- Prior travel history
- Duration of travel
- Purpose of travel
- Mode of travel
- Style of travel
- Season of travel
- Planned activities
- Standards of accommodation
- Level of food and general hygiene
- Availability of proper medical services
- Climate and environmental conditions
- Older age
- Disability or handicap
- Psychiatric condition
- Recent surgery
Process of Pre-travel Risk Assessments
Typically, a physician or a nurse specially trained in travel medicine or travel healthcare will perform the assessment.
The process is likely to begin with you being asked to complete a risk assessment form. Then, detailed questioning may be done using standardized questionnaires to gather comprehensive personal and travel information.
The assessor, with the help of a checklist, will ensure all the relevant information is obtained and recorded. The data gathered will be collated and evaluated to arrive at potential health risks during the travel.
The assessor may also discuss additional precautions you need to take to minimize risks specific to the trip. These can include:
- Traffic accidents
- Alcohol excess
- Personal assault
Benefits of Pre-travel Risk Assessments
Pre-travel risk assessments help to:
- Identify potential health as well as physical risks during the travel
- Educate you about risks and ways to mitigate or prevent them
- Decide on vaccinations to be given prior to your trip
- Decide on travel-related medications to bring
- Equip you to deal with impending risks
- Determine the appropriate advice and interventions to ensure risk-free travel