Volunteerism among surgeons: an exploration of attitudes and barriers

Am J Surg. 2008 Aug;196(2):300-4. doi: 10.1016/j.amjsurg.2007.10.015. Epub 2008 May 29.


Background: In a recent survey, the American College of Surgeons found great interest in surgically related volunteerism, but it was unclear if the interest reflected participation. The purpose of the current study was to explore attitudes and barriers to volunteering.

Methods: To assess surgeons' experiences and beliefs about volunteerism, we mailed a questionnaire to Nathan A. Womack Society members. We analyzed respondents' demographics and attitudes, and associations between physician characteristics and volunteer status.

Results: The response rate was 42.5%. More than half (56%) of respondents volunteered surgical skills at least once, and 48% actively volunteer a mean of 9 days per year. Full-time practicing status was associated with being an active volunteer (57.8% vs 17.2% not full-time, P <.001). Modifiable barriers were identified.

Conclusions: Many different kinds of surgeons volunteer their surgical skills, reflecting the interest found by the College. Knowledge of barriers can be used to develop strategies to help interested surgeons pursue volunteer interests.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • General Surgery*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Personnel Staffing and Scheduling
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Volunteers / psychology
  • Volunteers / statistics & numerical data*