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Glob Public Health. 2014;9(4):411-25. doi: 10.1080/17441692.2014.893368. Epub 2014 Mar 11.

Perceptions of a short-term medical programme in the Dominican Republic: voices of care recipients.

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a Berman Institute of Bioethics and Division of General Internal Medicine , Johns Hopkins University , Baltimore , MD , USA.


Participation in short-term global health programmes for low-income countries is increasing amongst practising clinicians and trainees from high-income countries. However, few studies explicitly examine the perceptions of programme recipients. In July 2012, we conducted semi-structured interviews with a purposive sample of 47 adults receiving care from Medical Ministry International, an international non-governmental organisation providing short-term medical programmes in the Dominican Republic. Thirty interviews met criteria for inclusion. Transcripts were independently coded using a descriptive approach. After thematic saturation, 20 interviews were included in the final analysis. Nine major themes were identified: misidentification, access, identified needs, social determinants, faith, language, student involvement, areas for improvement and respect. Recipients were reluctant to discuss programme improvement directly and frequently misidentified the researcher as a caregiver, suggesting a need to separate clearly programme evaluation from care provision. They viewed student involvement positively in a setting where supervision is emphasised, suggesting a potential to develop measures of supervision's adequacy. Finally, recipients' perceptions of respect as an important but intangible programme element encourage broadening the ethical discourse around short-term programmes beyond only tangible goods and services. Our findings support the usefulness of qualitative methods for short-term programme evaluation and generate important hypotheses for future research.


ethics; global health; medical missions; qualitative study; short-term medical outreach

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