How Can We Keep Immigrant Travelers Healthy? Health Challenges Experienced by Canadian South Asian Travelers Visiting Friends and Relatives

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Abstract

Immigrant travelers who visit friends and relatives (VFR travelers) experience substantially higher rates of travel-related infections than other travelers, in part due to low uptake of pretravel health advice. While barriers to accessing advice have been identified, better characterization is needed to inform targeted interventions. We sought to understand how South Asian VFR travelers perceived and responded to travel-related health risks by conducting group interviews with 32 adult travelers from an ethnoculturally diverse Canadian region. Travelers positioned themselves as knowledgeable of key health risks, despite not seeking pretravel health advice. Their responses to risks were pragmatic and rooted in experience, but often constrained by competing concerns, including rushed travel, familial obligations, cost, and a desire to preserve authentic experiences. Moving beyond risk awareness to reinforcing the value of medical advice and intervention, in a manner that is sensitive to these unique concerns, is needed when delivering tailored health promotion messages to VFR travelers.

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