Sunday, November 4, 2007

This presentation is part of : International Team Projects
Caring for the Caregivers: A Survey of Perceptions of Safety, and Health in Short Term Healthcare Team Students and Workers in Honduras
Nancy J. Crigger, PhD, ARNP, BC, MA1, Amanda Flanigan1, Janessa Schmitt1, and Lygia Holcomb, DSN, ARNP, C-FNP2. (1) Department of Nursing, William Jewell College, Liberty, MO, USA, (2) School of Nursing, University of Alabama, Trussville, AL, USA
Learning Objective #1: Describe the kinds and frequencies of injury or illness that occured in healthcare volunteer and the implications for future care of the caregives
Learning Objective #2: Discuss the implications for caregivers' care from study findings about volunteer perceptions of the experience.


A growing number of students are participating in healthcare practice in developing nations, yet little research exists on how to best keep student volunteers safe from harm. The purpose of this study was to evaluate  how workers perceived their safety and health during four short-term trips to Honduras with an organization called the Brigada de Salud. 

One hundred and thirty-seven evaluative surveys were mailed to the healthcare team workers who participated in the Honduran Brigada de Salud during 2001-2005. The surveys were mailed from 6 months to 1 year after the volunteers returned from their experience. The survey return rate was 37.9%. The survey participants were predominately female and included 20 students (34.6%) and 32 adults (61.5%) ranging in age from 12 to 65, with a mean age of 46.7 years.  Questionnaires were returned by 32 first-time volunteers (61.5%) and 20 (38.5%) experienced healthcare team members who had gone more than one time with the Brigada de Salud.

Gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms were reported by 11 of the 20 students (55.0%) and by 13 of the 32 volunteers (40.6%) making their first trip to Honduras. No cases of major illness or endangerment were reported. The survey respondents also discussed perceptions of safety and attitudinal changes associated with the trip. 

 The findings from this study of suggest that volunteers, particularly  first-time volunteers, should receive guidelines on prevention and treatment of enteric pathogens before embarking on their trip and encouraged to use maximal prevention. There were few occurences of serious health problems or fear of physical danger associated with short-term mission trips to Honduras in the volunteers sampled.