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

Matthew DeCamp, Samuel Enumah, Daniel O'Neill, Jeremy Sugarman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)411-425
Number of pages15
JournalGlobal public health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2014


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

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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