Assessment of local health worker attitudes toward international medical volunteers in low- And middle-income countries: A global survey

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of Epidemiology and Global Health








Global health; International medical volunteers; International medicine


© 2020 The Authors. Background: International Medical Volunteers (IMVs) positively and negatively impact host countries, and the goals of their trips may not always align with the interests of the hosts in Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs). We sought to better understand local physicians’ interest of hosting IMVs and what type of support they desired. Methods: This study was a convenience sample survey-based needs assessment. The surveys were distributed to local physicians by 28 professional society groups in LMICs. Findings: A total of 102 physicians from 51 countries completed the survey. Despite 61.8% participants having no experience with IMVs, 75% were interested in hosting them. Host physicians most desired clinical education (39%), research collaboration (18%), and Systems Development (11%). The most requested specialties were obstetrics and gynecology (25%) and emergency medicine (11%). Respondents considered public hospitals (62%) to be the most helpful clinical setting in which IMVs could work, and 3 months (47%) as the ideal length of stay. Respondents expressed interest in advertising the specific needs of the host country to potential IMVs (80%). Qualitative analyses suggested hosts wanted more training opportunities, inclusion of all stakeholders, culturally competent volunteers, and aid focused on subspecialty education, health policy, public health, and research. Conclusion: Hosts desire more bidirectional clinical education and research capacity building than just direct clinical care. Importantly, cultural competence is key to a successful host partnership, potentially improved through IMV preparation. Finally, respondents want IMVs to ensure that they stay within their scope of practice and training.

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