International fieldwork placements in low-income countries: Exploring community perspectives

Megan Shields, Jenny Quilty, Shafik Dharamsi, Donna Drynan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: There has been a significant increase in the number of occupational and physical therapy students going on international fieldwork placements in low-income countries. Yet, there has been a lack of research describing this experience from the agencies that host students.

METHODS: Purposive sampling was used to recruit participants from five affiliated international fieldwork sites. Six semi-structured interviews exploring the perspectives of individuals from agency sites in low-income countries facilitated the data collection. Interviews were audiotaped and transcribed verbatim for thematic analysis.

RESULTS: Four themes provided insight into the participants' experience of hosting student therapists. Participants emphasised: (i) there was a reciprocity of learning between agency members and students; (ii) they felt responsible for the health and safety of the students, as well as providing an enriching experience; (iii) participants questioned the preparation phase; and (iv) recommendations were made by participants to strengthen partnerships while contemplating sustainable practices.

CONCLUSIONS: This study highlighted that effective preparation, enhanced communication, reflection and reciprocity is necessary to achieve what hosting agencies view as sustainable international placements. These results provide a platform for stakeholders to question their current processes for fieldwork placement engagement and potential suggestions for improving current international fieldwork partnerships.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)321-328
Number of pages8
JournalAustralian occupational therapy journal
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2016


  • global health
  • international fieldwork
  • occupational therapy
  • physical therapy
  • qualitative research


Dive into the research topics of 'International fieldwork placements in low-income countries: Exploring community perspectives'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this