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Br J Gen Pract. 1994 Mar;44(380):105-8.

Holiday travel and morbidity reported to general practitioners.



This study set out to explore the influence that holiday travel might have on the rate at which new episodes of illness are reported to general practitioners.


The study was carried out in a semi-rural practice of five doctors in Wiltshire in 1989. Details of patients' holiday travel were determined by postal questionnaire. Sociodemographic and clinical data were obtained from the patients' medical records.


The response rate to the questionnaire was 85%. The study subjects were divided into those who had taken their holiday abroad (n = 643), those who had taken their holiday in the United Kingdom (n = 973), and those who had taken no holiday (n = 668) during the study year. Interim assessment of clinical results revealed no changes in morbidity indices in relation to holiday intervals in any of the groups except for an apparent rise in the number of new episodes of illness presented in the month before departure by those about to go abroad. Further analysis showed that this was due to a significant 112% increase in the number of episodes of illness presented by this study group in the week before they left home.


This study suggests that the present focus on the supposed excess morbidity of patients returning from foreign holidays is misplaced.

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