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Measuring the outcomes of volunteering for education: development and pilot of a tool to assess healthcare professionals’ personal and professional development from international volunteering
  1. Natasha Tyler1,
  2. Carlos Collares2,
  3. Ged Byrne3,
  4. Lucie Byrne-Davis4
  1. 1 Greater Manchester Patient Safety Translational Research Centre, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK
  2. 2 School of Health Professions Education, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands
  3. 3 Health Education England, Manchester, UK
  4. 4 The University of Manchester, Manchester, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Natasha Tyler; natasha.tyler{at}


Objective The development and pilot of a self-report questionnaire, to assess personal and professional development of healthcare professionals gained through experiences in low-income and middle-income countries.

Design The instrument was developed from a core set of the outcomes of international placements for UK healthcare professionals. Principal component analysis and multidimensional item response theory were conducted using results of a cross-sectional pilot study to highlight items with the best psychometric properties.

Setting Questionnaires were completed both online and in multiple UK healthcare professional events face-to-face.

Participants 436 healthcare professional participants from the UK (with and without international experience) completed a 110-item questionnaire in which they assessed their knowledge, skills and attitudes.

Measures The 110-item questionnaire included self-report questions on a 7-point Likert scale of agreement, developed from the core outcome set, including items on satisfaction, clinical skills, communication and other important healthcare professional knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours. Item reduction led to development of the 40-item Measuring the Outcomes of Volunteering for Education-Tool. Internal consistency was evaluated by the Cronbach’s α coefficient. Exploratory analysis investigated the structure of the data using principal component analysis and multivariate item response theory.

Results Exploratory analysis found 10 principal components that explained 71.80% of the variance. Components were labelled ‘attitude to work, adaptability, adapting communication, cultural sensitivity, difficult communication, confidence, teaching, management, behaviour change and life satisfaction’. Internal consistency was acceptable for the identified components (α=0.72–0.86).

Conclusions A 40-item self-report questionnaire developed from a core outcome set for personal and professional development from international placements was developed, with evidence of good reliability and validity. This questionnaire will increase understanding of impact of international placements, facilitating comparisons of different types of experience. This will aid decision making about whether UK healthcare professionals should be encouraged to volunteer internationally and in what capacity.

  • personal and professional development
  • international placements
  • volunteering
  • health professionals
  • low and middle income countries
  • principle component analysis
  • psychometric tool
  • learning assessment
  • self-assessment

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  • Contributors NT participated in the design of the study, conducted the pilot and drafted the majority of the manuscript. LB-D conceived the design of the study, analysed data and contributed significantly to drafting the manuscript. CC provided oversight to the study design, conducted the PCA and statistical analysis and drafted the manuscript, GB provided oversight of study design, helped recruit participants and drafted the manuscript. All authors participated in the coordination of the research and read and approved the final manuscript.

  • Funding This work was supported by a project development grant from Health Education England (HEE), through the Global Health Exchange (GHE). Grant ref. NURA54. The full title of the study from which this analysis was derived was: Measuring the outcomes of volunteering for education (MOVE). The study was funded by Health Education England (Global Health Exchange). The research team were independent from the funding agency. The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and not necessarily those of Health Education England or the Department of Health

  • Competing interests GB Ged Byrne is the Director of Global Engagement for Health Education England.

  • Ethics approval Approval for the study was obtained from the Ethical Research Committee, University of Salford, and the University of Manchester Research Ethics Committee. Participants gave informed consent.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement The datasets used and/or analysed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.