Knowledge, attitudes, and practice of travelers' diarrhea management among frontline providers

Aatif M. Hayat, David R. Tribble, John W. Sanders, Dennis J. Faix, Danny Shiau, Adam W. Armstrong, Mark S. Riddle*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Background. Many studies have found acute gastrointestinal infections to be among the most likely reason for clinic visits among forward deployed soldiers and are considered a significant contributor to morbidity in this population. This occurs despite the controlled food and water distribution systems under which military populations operate. Furthermore, recent studies have indicated that providers often fail to appropriately identify and treat the typical causes of these infections. To adequately address this issue, an assessment of gaps in knowledge, practice, and management of acute diarrhea in deployed troops was conducted. Methods. A multiple-choice survey was developed by clinical researchers with expertise in travelers' diarrhea (TD) and provided to a convenience sample of clinical providers with a broad range of training and operational experience. The survey evaluated provider's knowledge of TD along with their ability to identify etiologies of various syndromic categories of acute gastrointestinal infections. Providers were also queried on selection of treatment approaches to a variety of clinical-based scenarios. Results. A total of 117 respondents completed the survey. Most were aware of the standard definition of TD (77%); however, their knowledge about the epidemiology was lower, with less than 24% correctly answering questions on etiology of diarrhea, and 31% believing that a viral pathogen was the primary cause of watery diarrhea during deployment. Evaluation of scenario-based responses showed that 64% of providers chose not to use antibiotics to treat moderate TD. Furthermore, 19% of providers felt that severe inflammatory diarrhea was best treated with hydration only while 25% felt hydration was the therapy of choice for dysentery. Across all provider types, three practitioner characteristics appeared to be related to better scores on responses to the nine management scenarios: having a Doctor of Medicine or Doctor of Osteopathy degree, greater knowledge of TD epidemiology, and favorable attitudes toward antimotility or antibiotic therapy. Conclusion. Results from this survey support the need for improving knowledge and management of TD among deploying providers. The information from this study should be considered to support the establishment and dissemination of military diarrhea-management guidelines to assist in improving the health of military personnel.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)310-317
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Travel Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2011


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