Travellers’ diarrhoea—a survey of practice

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Background. Travellers’ diarrhoea (TD) is a common problem, affecting millions of tourists each year and creating a large economic burden. Risk factors for TD are known and guidelines exist to assist practitioners in advising travellers on how to prevent and treat TD. However, data are lacking regarding actual prescribing practices or approaches used in TD management. This study aims to establish a baseline which identifies uniformities and diversities in practice.

Methods. An online survey created using the SurveyMonkey tool was developed to test respondent approaches to TD pre-travel management. An invitation to participate in the survey was distributed early 2016 through selected Australian and New Zealand speciality travel medicine centres and through the electronic mailing list of the International Society of Travel Medicine (ISTM). Descriptive statistics and analyses using Chi Square analysis and two-sided Fishers exact tests for significance were used.

Results. Three hundred and sixty-four completed or partially completed surveys were collected from respondents in 23 countries. Approach to TD, antibiotic choice and management of four different clinical scenarios were assessed, with analyses focused on identifying significant differences in approach according to region of practice, professional background and level of experience. The responses to the clinical scenarios suggest most uniformity in recommended treatment strategies in clearly mild or severe disease, and greater variability in moderate disease.

Conclusions. There is practice diversity in the discussion of preventative techniques and prescribing of self-treatment medications for TD, especially for moderate TD disease. Evidence-based guidelines that address the competing issues of patient health and morbidity vs the risk of colonization with resistant organisms may lead to more consistent antibiotic prescribing practices.

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