Module Two


Short-Term Medical Missions: Research-Based Recommendations for Practice

Over the past two decades, the number of short-term international mission trips for the provision of health services has dramatically increased. Catholic health care has participated in this growth. According to researchers at Harvard Medical School, an estimated 6,000 medical missions are sent from the United States to low- or middle-income countries every year with an annual expenditure of at least $250 million dollars.

While these experiences provide an opportunity for Catholic health care to continue its mission of reaching out to those persons who are poor, sick and vulnerable, there are consistent concerns about their value and effectiveness. Considering the significant human and economic investment in health service trips, it is essential to gain a better understanding of these activities and to consider how they can provide the maximum benefit for all involved.
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This module will share insights, commentary and statistics stemming from a two-phase research project CHA conducted with Fr. Michael Rozier, SJ, doctoral student, Department of Health Management and Policy, University of Michigan; Judith N. Lasker, Ph.D., the N.E.H. distinguished professor of sociology in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Lehigh University; and Bruce Compton, CHA senior director of international outreach. Phase two was conducted with Accenture Development.

The goal is to provide you with insights from both sides of the partnership relationship: those who plan the trips and those who host them. Understanding the recommended practices that are based on research and narrative from both hosts and sponsors should allow you to see your part in this activity in a new light. Who is helping who? What are the benefits for both sides? What are the shortcomings? Gaining new perspectives will hopefully allow you to enter the short-term trip with a sense of the aspects of partnerships in short-term medical mission trips.

Please note: This module includes questions for reflection. As each is provided, we recommend you pause the module to consider your response.


Here are some of the resources cited in the video as well as additional articles you might want to review.

Short-Term Medical Mission Trips: Recommendations for Practice
This book shares 20 Recommendations for Practice that Catholic health care leaders should use to review current and to consider future short-term medical mission trips. They are based on the Phase I and Phase II short-term medical mission trip research.

» Order a copy of the book
» Download an electronic copy
» Order the webinar recording
» Learn more about the research and Recommendations for Practice by listening to a recording of the 30-minute webinar

Short-Term Medical Mission Trips Survey Results
This book contains the detailed question-by-question survey results from Phase I and Phase II of CHA's 2014-2015 research project on short-term medical mission trips.
» Order a copy of the book
» Download an electronic copy

Want to learn more?

Go to to access the booklets, video scenario and additional expert commentary about the scenario, articles and more.


Proceed to Module Three