The effect of pediatric colorectal short-term medical service trips on self-reported confidence in patient care in volunteers in the home country

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Annals of Global Health








© 2020 The Author(s). Introduction: Short-term international medical service trips (MST) are established means to access ­specialized medical aid in resource-limited areas. The field of pediatric colorectal surgery is a subspecialty in pediatric surgery that mainly treats anorectal malformations (ARM) and Hirschsprung disease (HD). This study aimed to investigate the impact of MST on the donors’ perception of competency concomitantly to the impact on patients in the donors’ home country. We also wanted to investigate whether the donors’ pre-existing experience in the field of ARM and HD affects the experience they gain during the MST, and the subjective perception in treating patients in their base country. Methods: We created a questionnaire for the international medical staff participating in MSTs on the unique topic of pediatric colorectal diseases. The questionnaire was split into three parts: essential ­experience (1) in the field of colorectal surgery of the participant, the experience and impact on patient care in the home country during and after the MST in ARM (2), and in HD (3). Results: We collected data from 20 participants (6 female, 14 male). The majority of them had prior ­experience with the MST program (75%) and came from institutions specialized in the treatment of pediatric colorectal disorders (80%). Participants felt that MST improved patient care in both the host country (p < 0.001) and their home country (p < 0.001). Experienced and less experienced participants did not differ in the overall MST evaluation (ps > 0.08). They reported that their competencies to treat ARM and HD improved significantly in response to the MST (ps < 0.001). Improvements in ARM and HD ­treatment were associated with the number of supervised HD surgeries during MST, while the other forms of participation were unrelated to the improvements. Conclusion: The results of our questionnaire indicate that participation in MST in the specialized field of pediatric colorectal surgery helps to improve confidence in the care and treatment of affected patients in both the host and donor countries, independent of previous surgical experience.

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