Health Disparities Among Travelers Visiting Friends and Relatives Abroad

Approximately 45 percent of international trips from the United States (not including trips to Mexico or Canada) were described by travelers as "visiting friends and relatives" (VFR). The present article provided a description of VFR travelers and details risks related to travel for this population. Additionally, the article offered recommendations for addressing health care disparities for VFR travelers.

Key Findings:

  • Many VFR travelers are foreign-born and their trips abroad are often to their countries of origin.
  • Health care barriers for VFR travelers include low rates of insurance, lower immunization rates and insufficient and/or problematic specialty travel care.
  • Examples of patient-level barriers to health care for VFR travelers are perception of reduced risk of disease by VFR travelers and lower likelihood of following through on suggested medical care.
  • Barriers at the provider level for VFR travelers include providers not being as knowledgeable on travel-related medicine.
  • The U.S.-Mexico Binational Tuberculosis Referral and Case Management Project is an example of a health care collaboration between nations that includes the VFR traveler population.
  • Conducting research in the area of VFR travel, increasing routine vaccinations for individuals from diverse groups, such as refugees and community-based interventions targeted to immigrant communities are all recommendations related to decreasing health disparities among the VFR traveler population.