Demographic profile of physician participants in short-term medical missions

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Background: The US is the leading sending country for short term medical missions (STMMs), an unregulated and unsanctioned, grass roots form of direct medical service aid from richer countries to low and middle income countries. The objective of this study is to profile US physicians who go on such missions by means of a survey sample of the US physician population. Methods: An online survey solicited information on physician participation in STMMS as well as demographic and professional features. Responses were descriptively tabulated and multivariate regressions were performed to model for physician profiles related to STMM participation. Results: Physician participants in STMMs are more likely to be a surgeon, anesthesiologist or pediatrician, married with few or no children at home, later in their career and have an income of $200-250 K. Conclusions: Specialty is the strongest predictor of participation. STMM participation does not differ by race, ethnicity nor religion. Descriptive statistics further provide a limited profile of participants. Direct expenses may have less influence on participation than opportunity costs. Potential clues about motivation that may be inferred from the features of the profile are discussed.




Caldron, P. H., Impens, A., Pavlova, M., & Groot, W. (2016). Demographic profile of physician participants in short-term medical missions. BMC Health Services Research, 16(1), 1–10.

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