oa Southern African Journal of Epidemiology and Infection - The psychological stress of relocation and travel : travel medicine



Although international business has existed for centuries, the world has entered an era of extraordinary global economic activity. This would include a substantial increase in worldwide production, distribution, and joint ventures. As a result of the growth in international business, the need for extensive international travelling has also increased tremendously. This need for international business travel has led to very high demands being placed on the people who need to conduct such international travelling.

One of the most challenging issues facing companies in the new global village is the management of the human resources required to ensure the successful coordination of their diverse international interests, To successfully manage these international interests, companies typically make use of three types of international travellers, namely short trippers (mostly executives who do not spend longer than one month in a specific country), short term assignees (technical specialists who spend one to six months at a foreign operation to complete a specific project), and expatriates (longer-term assignees who are sent to operations in foreign countries for a period of six months and longer).
A major task of the international traveller is to remain emotionally healthy, despite being faced with numerous challenges - both at a professional and a personal level. According to a World Bank and Hyatt Hotel survey, insurance claims for health problems tend to increase among employees who travel often. The study found that employees who travel overseas are twice as likely to file health claims for psychological problems. The study also found that travellers are up to three times more likely to suffer psychological disorders than their non-travelling colleagues. The more business trips that are taken, the greater the likelihood is of a person making a medical claim. Similar results were found for people involved with international assignments.


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