Interest in international surgical volunteerism: results of a survey of members of the American Pediatric Surgical Association

J Pediatr Surg. 2011 Dec;46(12):2244-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jpedsurg.2011.09.008.


Purpose: This study assesses interest in international volunteer work by members of the American Pediatric Surgical Association (APSA) and attempts to identify demographics, motivations, obstacles, and institutional issues of the respondents.

Methods: An online survey service was used to send a 25-question survey to all APSA members with email addresses in November 2009. An answer to all questions was not required. Written comments were encouraged.

Results: The survey was sent to 807 members of whom 316 responded, for a response rate of 39%. International work had been done previously by 48% of respondents, whereas 95% stated that they were interested or perhaps interested in doing so. Most (83%) were interested in operating with local surgeons to teach them how to perform procedures. Altruism was the chief motivation in 75% of respondents. Primary obstacles to doing international work were family obligations and lack of time, although 37% stated that a lack of information about volunteer opportunities was an issue. A significant number of respondents (48%) stated that their institution had no established international collaborations.

Conclusion: This study suggests that there is interest in international volunteerism among many members of APSA. Understanding the issues surrounding surgical volunteerism may facilitate humanitarian involvement among pediatric surgeons.

MeSH terms

  • Altruism
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Data Collection
  • General Surgery*
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Humans
  • Institutional Practice
  • International Cooperation*
  • Internship and Residency
  • Moral Obligations
  • Motivation
  • Organizational Policy
  • Pediatrics*
  • Physicians / psychology*
  • Professional Practice
  • Social Responsibility
  • Societies, Medical
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States
  • Volunteers* / psychology