Partners and Hosts: Narratives about Power and Relationships in Short-term Medical Service Trips
Using a case-study approach, we gathered data from 27 semi-structured in-depth interviews conducted with the key members of a single medical service organization and analyzed the qualitative data using the constant comparative method.
Efforts to establish relationships between medical service teams and local HCWs face challenges of mutuality that mirror those of other development activities. The actual terms the volunteers use for relationships formed with HCWs in LMICs are inconsistent. The descriptions of these relationships also vary illustrating mechanistic elements and signs of partnering. While the organization encourages the development of partnerships with local HCWs, there is no uniform reflection of a balance of power. Those relationships that reflect a balance could serve as the basis for improving others.
Historical and cultural barriers to the development of partnerships may be exaggerated by the short-term nature of MSTs and be difficult to overcome without a constant presence or consistent culturally sensitive communication between the parties involved. Individual team leaders are responsible for the culture on their team. That leadership can either promote interactions that empower or overpower local HCWs. Awareness of the lack of balance in power and the sociocultural impact of that imbalance may help medical service volunteers provide higher quality care in these settings.
Learning Areas:Administration, management, leadership
Provision of health care to the public
Describe the relationships between healthcare providers from high-income countries and low or middle income countries using the narratives of short-term medical service trip volunteers. Compare the described elements of these relationships with those of partnerships as defined by the literature.
Keyword(s): International Health, Partnerships
Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I conducted this research on my own including the data collection and the analysis. I hold a doctorate in Health Policy and Management and my research focuses on global humanitarian healthcare delivery.
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.