BACKGROUND: Many travelers to regions with endemic infectious diseases do not follow health authorities' recommendations regarding vaccination against vaccine-preventable infectious diseases, before traveling. The determinants of individual travelers' decisions to vaccinate before traveling are largely unknown. This study aimed to provide this information using a discrete choice experiment (DCE) administered to four types of German travelers: (1) business travelers; (2) travelers visiting friends and relatives (VFR); (3) leisure travelers; and (4) backpackers.
METHODS: A DCE survey was developed, pretested and administered online. It included a series of choice questions in which respondents chose between two hypothetical vaccines, each characterized by four disease attributes with varying levels describing the of risk, health impact, curability and transmissibility of the disease they would prevent (described with four disease attributes with varying levels of risk, health impact, curability and transmissibility), and varying levels of four vaccine attributes (duration of protection, number of doses required, time required for vaccination, and vaccine cost). A random-parameters logit model was used to estimate the importance weights each traveler type placed on the various attribute levels. These weights were used to calculate mean monetary equivalents (MMEs) of changes in each attribute (holding all others constant) and of hypothetical disease-vaccine combinations.
RESULTS: All traveler types' choices indicated that they attached the greatest importance to the risk and health impact of disease and to the vaccine cost whereas the other disease and vaccine attributes were less important for their decisions about travel vaccines. An option of not choosing any of the vaccine-pairs presented was rarely selected indicating that travelers' generally prefer to be vaccinated rather than not. The MMEs of changes in vaccine attributes indicated a very high variability between the individual travelers within each type.
CONCLUSIONS: The travelers' responses indicated strong preferences for selecting vaccination rather than opting out of vaccination, and disease risk, health impact and vaccine cost were the most important features for vaccine choice.