Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Motivational brief intervention for the prevention of sexually transmitted infections in travelers: a randomized controlled trial

Nicolas Senn1*, Serge de Valliere1*, Didier Berdoz2 and Blaise Genton134

Author Affiliations

1 Travel Clinic, Department of Ambulatory Care and Community Medicine, University of Lausanne, Switzerland

2 Alcohol Treatment Centre, University of Lausanne, Switzerland

3 Infectious Diseases Service, University Hospital, Lausanne, Switzerland

4 Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, University of Basel, Switzerland

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2011, 11:300  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-11-300

Published: 1 November 2011



Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are among the frequent risks encountered by travelers. Efficient interventions are needed to improve the understanding of the risks of STIs. We investigated the potential benefits of a motivational brief intervention (BI) and the provision of condoms on the engagement in unprotected casual sex.


3-arm randomized controlled trial performed among single travelers aged 18-44 years visiting a travel clinic in Switzerland. The main outcomes were the prevalence of casual unprotected sexual intercourse and their predictors.


5148 eligible travelers were seen from 2006 to 2008. 1681 agreed to participate and 1115 subjects (66%) completed the study. 184/1115 (17%) had a casual sexual relationship abroad and overall 46/1115 (4.1%) had inconsistently protected sexual relations. Women (adjusted OR 2.7 [95%CI 1.4-5.6]) and travelers with a history of past STI (adjusted OR 2.8 [95%CI 1.1-7.4]) had more frequent casual sexual relationships without consistent protection. Regarding the effect of our intervention, the prevalence of subjects using condoms inconsistently was 28% (95%CI16-40) in the motivational BI group, 24% (95%CI10-37) in the condoms group and 24% (95%CI14-33) in the control group (p = 0.7).


This study showed that a motivational brief intervention and/or the provision of free condoms did not modify risky sexual behavior of young travelers. The rate of inconsistently protected sexual relationships during travel was however lower than expected

Trial Registration Number NCT01056536