Risk-taking on electives

Malawi2008-174-300x225
A study in Medical Education (link to full text, UoE) reports on a post-elective survey in 335 students (85% response rate), median age 24, 70% female. Medical students comprised 135 of 185 healthcare students analysed as a group. No surprises that 50% had some kind of illness while away, 2% were admitted to hospital. The roads were more dangerous, 10% experienced theft, and they reported averagely good/poor concordance with malaria prophylaxis, which most seemed to be prepared for.

Four experienced blood exposure, including one in India and one in Ethiopia.  None had taken HIV post-exposure drugs with them.
20% had a new sexual partner while away, more commonly with a national of the country they were visiting than with a fellow traveller.  A minority had taken condoms.  Although 65% of the total student group consistently practised safe sex, this was the case with only 42% in the healthcare student group, but the numbers are getting small at this point.

What is needed?  Good advice, sensible behaviour, condoms, and for many low-resource countries an HIV post-exposure kit would be very wise.

Limitations:  Small numbers. Swedish.
There’s lots of scope to broaden this research.

Reference
Angelin M, B Evengard, H Palmgren. 2015.  Illness and risk behaviour in health care students studying abroad. Medical Education 49: 684-91 (link to full text, UoE)

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