Online Program

Intangible costs and benefits of short-term medical experiences in the Dominican Republic

Monday, November 4, 2013

Asha Behdinan, Faculty of Arts and Science, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada
Emery Lin, MD, Department of Medicine, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI
Lawrence Loh, MD, MPH, CCFP, FRCPC, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
Henry C. Lin, MD, Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, Chicago, IL
William Scarth, PhD, Department of Economics, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada
Purpose: Healthcare is provided to Haitian migrants in La Romana, Dominican Republic via mobile medical clinics provided by short-term volunteer teams. Literature on the intangible costs and benefits of this care model is limited. This cost-benefit study aims 1) To analyze intangible factors of this model of short-term medical care on the recipient community and participating individuals, and 2) To determine the qualitative impact of these short-term experiences.

Data Used: Quantitative data obtained from local hospital on medical care provided; qualitative data from interviews with key stakeholders. Qualitative data collected was quantified in order to assign values to the intangible factors.

Methods: Potential sources of costs and benefits were outlined to determine a framework for data collection and analysis of societal impacts on the recipient community and overall impact on both the community and hospital. Data was analyzed using established tools including contingent valuation, Value-of-Life, and Cost-of-Injury Estimates.

Major Results: Volunteer teams were viewed positively. Analysis of intangible benefits showed a mixed impact. Identified costs include negative externalities, opportunity costs, and duplication of efforts. Duplication of efforts and opportunity costs impact efficiency of both the community “(worker productivity) and hospital. Mobile medical clinics improve standard of living, quality of life, and equality between the social classes.

Implications: Assessing the intangible costs and benefits of short-term medical experiences can help determine actual societal impact. Additional assessment is needed to help guide and direct short-term volunteer efforts to improve efficiency and sustainability of care.

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education
Public health or related research
Systems thinking models (conceptual and theoretical models), applications related to public health

Learning Objectives:
Identify specific intangible factors related to work of short-term volunteer teams. Analyze potential cost and benefits associated with these intangible factors.

Keyword(s): Cost-Effectiveness, International Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a student with an interest in healthcare economics and am working on an independent study project and am being mentored by a professor in the Department of Economics with experience performing cost-benefit analyses.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.