Logo of brjgenpracRCGP homepageJ R Coll Gen Pract at PubMed CentralBJGP at RCGPBJGP at RCGP
Br J Gen Pract. Apr 1991; 41(345): 159–162.
PMCID: PMC1371516

A survey of the health of British missionaries.


The results of medical examinations carried out on 212 missionary personnel from one missionary society returning on leave to the UK are presented. The great majority of missionaries worked in developing countries. They served in 27 countries altogether and for a total of 488 person years. The commonest illnesses reported overseas were malaria (87.3 per 1000 person years at risk), diarrhoea (63.5), anxiety (63.5), depression (41.0) and giardiasis (38.9). More illnesses were reported from West Africa (698 per 1000 person years at risk) than from any other region. Ten people (4.7%) were repatriated for health reasons and 10 relatives also returned as a consequence. Sixty per cent of those returning did so because of psychiatric illness. The highest rates of immunization achieved were for yellow fever (100% of those travelling to affected countries), tetanus (93%), polio (85%), typhoid (71%) and tuberculosis (53%). The results of urinalysis (100% of adults), full blood counts (78% of adults) and stool tests (74% of all people) are reported. The study shows that the history and psychiatric examination are an important part of the medical examination of people returning from overseas. Physical examination and urinalysis did not contribute much information, although the full blood count and absolute eosinophil count were useful tests.

Full text

Full text is available as a scanned copy of the original print version. Get a printable copy (PDF file) of the complete article (797K), or click on a page image below to browse page by page. Links to PubMed are also available for Selected References.

Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Geddes AM, Gully PR. The returning traveller. J R Coll Physicians Lond. 1981 Apr;15(2):124–128. [PubMed]
  • Philipp R, Webber S, Butler AV, Macara AW. Student health during overseas electives. J R Coll Gen Pract. 1985 Feb;35(271):80–83. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • van den Bosch P. Risks of overseas voluntary service. Lancet. 1986 Jan 25;1(8474):217–217. [PubMed]
  • Lange WR, Kreider SD, Kaczaniuk MA, Snyder FR. Missionary health: the great omission. Am J Prev Med. 1987 Nov-Dec;3(6):332–338. [PubMed]
  • Peppiatt R. International travel medicine. J R Coll Gen Pract. 1989 Feb;39(319):42–43. [PMC free article] [PubMed]

Articles from The British Journal of General Practice are provided here courtesy of Royal College of General Practitioners


Related citations in PubMed

See reviews...See all...

Cited by other articles in PMC

See all...


  • PubMed
    PubMed citations for these articles

Recent Activity

Your browsing activity is empty.

Activity recording is turned off.

Turn recording back on

See more...