Background Illness accounts for a significant proportion of consultations with a team physician travelling with elite athletes.
Objective To determine if international travel increases the incidence of illness in rugby union players participating in a 16-week tournament.
Setting 2010 Super 14 Rugby Union tournament.
Participants 259 elite rugby players from eight teams were followed daily over the 16-week competition period (22 676 player-days).
Assessment Team physicians completed a logbook detailing the daily squad size and illness in any player (system affected, final diagnosis, type and onset of symptoms, training/match days lost and suspected cause) with 100% compliance. Time periods during the tournament were divided as follows: located and playing in the home country before travelling (baseline), located and playing abroad in countries >5 h time zone difference (travel) and located back in the home country following international travel (return).
Main outcome measurement Incidence of illness (illness per 1000 player-days) during baseline, travel and return.
Results The overall incidence of illness in the cohort was 20.7 (95% CI 18.5 to 23.1). For all teams, the incidence of illness according to location and travelling was significantly higher in the time period following international travel (32.6; 95% CI 19.6 to 53.5) compared with the baseline (15.4; 95% CI 8.7 to 27.0) or after returning to their home country (10.6; 95% CI 6.1 to 18.2).
Conclusions There is a higher incidence of illness in athletes following international travel to a foreign country that is >5 h time difference and this returns to baseline on return to the home country.
Statistics from Altmetric.com
Funding IOC Research Center: 2009-09-07, partial support.
Competing interest None.
Patient consent Obtained.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.