Experience of Ethics Training and Support for Health Care Professionals in International Aid Work

Public Health Ethics 5 (1):91-99 (2012)
Health care professionals who travel from their home countries to participate in humanitarian assistance or development work experience distinctive ethical challenges in providing care and services to populations affected by war, disaster or deprivation. Limited information is available about organizational practices related to preparation and support for health professionals working with non-governmental organizations. In this article, we present one component of the results of a qualitative study conducted with 20 Canadian health care professionals who participated in international aid work. The findings reported here relate to expatriate clinicians’ experiences and perceptions of ethics preparation, training and support. The strategies examined include pre-departure training and preparation, in-field supports and retrospective debriefing of ethical issues. Participants experienced a range of training and supports as beneficial for addressing ethical challenges in humanitarian assistance and development work. Participants also expressed ambivalence or scepticism about the benefits offered by specific modalities. This analysis can contribute to informing discussions of how organizations and individual practitioners can best develop, implement and utilize ethics training and support for international aid work
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DOI 10.1093/phe/phr033
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