Global Surgery: The Perspective of Public Health Students

  •  Brittany A. Hout    
  •  Eric P. Matthews    
  •  Jan-Michael Van Gent    


Current research has emphasized the importance of increased involvement of medical professionals and global health specialists for the success of global surgery efforts. This quantitative descriptive study aimed to examine public health students’ perceptions of global surgery. A 21- question mixed method online survey was distributed over eight weeks via student email to all students enrolled in the Masters of Public Health Program at A.T. Still University (ATSU) College of Graduate Health Studies. Of 212 students, 35 (16.5%) respondents completed the survey with 30 students reporting interest in global health in their future public health careers. Two-thirds of students erroneously identified infectious diseases as the leading cause of death worldwide, not traumatic injury. Participants identified infectious disease and OB/GYN as the two medical fields to contribute significantly to global health. Surgical care was felt to be the least economically cost-effective medical field for low and middle-income countries (LMICs). As the first project to report perspectives of public health students regarding global surgery, this study highlighted several significant misconceptions concerning global surgery. Like the results from similar studies in medical students, it is alarming that there is such a paucity of community health knowledge surrounding surgery and its effects on global surgical needs. Further research should focus on the effect on student perceptions after curriculum modification include education regarding the burden of surgical disease and role of global surgery.

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