Context: It is common practice worldwide for health professionals to study abroad. However, the outcome of such experience has not been rigorously evaluated in China. Our current study aimed to quantify the impact on research of studying abroad among Chinese health professionals.
Methods: A self-administered structured questionnaire was developed among health professionals in Harbin Medical University and its affiliated hospitals who had studied abroad ('returning' professionals) and health professionals who did not have experience abroad ('resident' professionals). 166 'returning' professionals (Group A) and 166 age-, sex- and specialty-matched 'resident' professionals (Group B) were included in the study. SPSS software was used for data entry and analysis.
Results: The total IF of papers published by Group A and Group B was, respectively, 1933.52 and 629.23 (P<0.01) and the number of NSFC was 154 and 34 (P<0.01), respectively. The total IF of papers published abroad was associated with the duration abroad (P<0.01) and not with the age of going abroad (P>0.05). The total IF of papers published at home, and the number of NSFC had no relationship with the duration abroad (both P>0.05) nor the age of going abroad (both P>0.05). The total IF of papers published at home and the number of NSFC were positively correlated with the total IF of papers published abroad (both P<0.01).
Conclusions: This study reflects the beneficial experience of working overseas. The opportunity for overseas experience should not be limited by age. Overseas study should be prolonged.