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Perceptions of Work in Humanitarian Assistance: Interviews With Returning Swedish Health Professionals
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Women's and Children's Health. (Internationell kvinno- & mödrahälsovård och migration/Essén)
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Women's and Children's Health. (Internationell sexuell och reproduktiv hälsa/Larsson)
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Women's and Children's Health. (International Maternal and Reproductive Health)
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Women's and Children's Health. (International Maternal and Reproductive Health)
2004 (English)In: Disaster Management & Response, ISSN 1540-2487, E-ISSN 1540-2495, Vol. 2, no 4, 101-108 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

 

Health personnel volunteering for humanitarian assistance assignments work in increasingly dangerous situations and increasingly complex roles. A qualitative analysis of interviews with returning Swedish aid workers, who collectively had been on 74 missions in 32 different countries, revealed that they felt positive about their contribution, but experienced high levels of stress and frustration. They were also surprised and inadequately prepared for tasks that fell outside their professional health care training, including ones demanding pedagogic and management skills.

The volunteers perceived their success on humanitarian assistance assignments as being affected not only by their own professional competence and special preparatory training, but also by many other factors. In particular, recruiting organizations could improve volunteer performance by accepting only experienced professionals, requiring special preparatory training, clarifying the exact nature of the work, and providing better support during the assignment. Further analysis of humanitarian assistance as a complex and dynamic system involving multiple ‘actors’ could lead to improved understanding and better performance.

 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2004. Vol. 2, no 4, 101-108 p.
Keyword [en]
Humanitarian action, aid workers, perception, qualitiative research
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-100876DOI: 10.1016/j.dmr.2004.08.009PubMedID: 15448624OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-100876DiVA: diva2:211187
Available from: 2009-04-14 Created: 2009-04-09 Last updated: 2017-12-13Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Images, Motives, and Challenges for Western Health Workers in Humanitarian Aid
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Images, Motives, and Challenges for Western Health Workers in Humanitarian Aid
2009 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis presents how humanitarian aid workers were attracted, motivated, recruited, and prepared for fieldwork, and how they reported their work experience directly from the field and when they returned home. Data were derived from interviews with experienced aid workers, focus group discussions with presumptive aid workers, analysis of letters from aid workers in the field on MSFs homepages in Europe, and from interviews with recruitment officers at some of the main humanitarian organisations.

Health professionals were attracted by the positive images of humanitarian action. They wished to work in teams with like-minded people, and to make a difference in the world. However, this image was not supported by the recruitment officers, or experienced aid workers, who described a complex reality in humanitarian action. The experienced aid workers instead had realised they learned more than they contributed.

The recruitment system for relief workers would benefit from a more holistic approach, where personalities of the aid workers are more in focus. More time must be spent with the applicants, both recruited and returning aid workers, in order to improve the system. A socialisation approach could help identify the right personnel and to motivate current personnel to continue.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2009. 65 p.
Series
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Medicine, ISSN 1651-6206 ; 453
Keyword
humanitarian action, human resource management, relief workers, aid workers, volunteers, images, motives, qualitative research
National Category
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
Research subject
Medicine
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-100891 (URN)978-91-554-7509-3 (ISBN)
Public defence
2009-05-27, Universitetshuset, Sal IV, S:t Olofsgatan, Uppsala, 09:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2009-05-06 Created: 2009-04-09 Last updated: 2010-05-27Bibliographically approved

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Bjerneld, MagdalenaLindmark, GunillaGarrett, Martha J.

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