Media releases

Hosting or visiting friends or relatives these school holidays could improve your health

Posted: Monday 9 July 2018

Whilst many of us complain about visiting or being visited by our relatives (particularly our in-laws), recent FedUni research reveals that these visits can actually improve quality of life.

According to Dr Elisa Backer, Associate Professor of Tourism and Management at Federation University Australia, as individuals we often recall and share negative experiences regarding visits from friends or relatives.

“However, the findings from my research revealed that in general, these experiences do add to our quality of life,” she said.

Associate Professor Backer is internationally regarded as the leading world expert in Visiting Friends and Relatives (VFR) travel research. Her recent research entitled ‘VFR travel: Do visits improve or reduce our quality of life?’ was selected as one of four papers invited to be published in a special issue of Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Management that considered rethinking tourism for the future.

Her research is the first paper that has examined the relationship between quality of life and VFR travel. Based on a sample size of 552 from across Australia, the findings revealed that in most cases positive quality of life benefits arose from hosting or visiting relatives or friends.

“The research revealed that in general, people greatly treasured the opportunity to catch up with important people in their lives and create precious memories,” Associate Professor Backer said

“There were definitely cases that showed a reduction in quality of life, and there was a strong correlation between negative experiences and lack of space.”

“For people who did not have the space, such as a spare bedroom, or adequate bathroom facilities to host visitors, stress and conflict arose in some cases that resulted in negative experiences.”

Associate Professor Backer said there was also a clear theme in attitude. Whilst some respondents lacked the space to adequately cater for their friends or relatives, they treasured the social connection and accordingly, their attitude allowed them to obtain more positive benefits.

“Quality of life is now regarded as a key health indicator and can play a major role with preventative health care. “

“Understanding this may inform how we deal with these visits and what attitude we select. For example, we may select to stay in commercial accommodation when visiting our friends or relatives to ensure the experiences provide more positive benefits and provide us with less conflict and stress,” she said.

Associate Professor Elisa Backer can be contacted on 0438 891 836

Contact Le-anne O'Brien
Manager, Public Relations
03 5327 9637