Background: Humanitarian healthcare workers are indispensable for treating weapon-wounded patients in armed conflict, and the international humanitarian community should ensure adequate preparedness for this task. This study aims to assess deployed humanitarian healthcare workers’ self-perceived preparedness, training requirements and mental support needs. Methods: Medical professionals deployed with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) between October 2018 and June 2020 were invited to participate in this longitudinal questionnaire. Two separate questionnaires were conducted pre- and post-deployment to assess respondents’ self-perceived preparedness, preparation efforts, deployment experiences and deployment influence on personal and professional development. Results: Response rates for the pre- and post-deployment questionnaires were 52.5% (114/217) and 26.7% (58/217), respectively. Eighty-five respondents (85/114; 74.6%) reported feeling sufficiently prepared to treat adult trauma patients, reflected by predeployment ratings of 3 or higher on a scale from 1 (low) to 5 (high). Significantly lower ratings were found among nurses compared to physicians. Work experience in a high-volume trauma centre before deployment was associated with a greater feeling of preparedness (mean rank 46.98 vs. 36.89; p = 0.045). Topics most frequently requested to be included in future training were neurosurgery, maxillofacial surgery, reconstructive surgery, ultrasound, tropical diseases, triage, burns and newborn noncommunicable disease management. Moreover, 51.7% (30/58) of the respondents regarded the availability of a mental health professional during deployment as helpful to deal with stress. Conclusion: Overall, deployed ICRC medical personnel felt sufficiently prepared for their missions, although nurses reported lower preparedness levels than physicians. Recommendations were made concerning topics to be covered in future training and additional preparation strategies to gain relevant clinical experience. Future preparatory efforts should focus on all medical professions, and their training needs should be continuously monitored to ensure the alignment of preparation strategies with preparation needs.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors want to offer sincere thanks to Géraldine Meichstry, Talent Manager of the Health Unit (assistance division) of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), for the logistical support with identification of potential study participants. Also, Stefan Verweij’s work on distribution of the questionnaires with his company Evently, is very much appreciated.
© 2022, The Author(s).