Current Anesthesiology Reports

, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp 18–24 | Cite as

How Do We Know? Comparisons of Existing Datasets for Overseas Surgical Missions

  • Andrea N. Davis
  • Lily Gutnik
  • F. Arran Seiler
  • Sean RunnelsEmail author
Global Health Anesthesia (MJ Harris, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Global Health Anesthesia


Purpose of Review

Over five billion people lack access to safe surgery when they need it. Short-term surgical missions from high-resource countries are a popular strategy to try and address this deficit. Each year, thousands of providers spend billions of dollars participating in short-term surgical missions. These missions are poorly characterized in aggregate. In this exercise, we performed reviews of two databases in an attempt to identify and characterize short-term surgical missions to Uganda. The first, a traditional search of the medical literature. The second, an unorthodox search of the internet. We compare the results of each in terms of motive, trip length, operations performed, surgery type, country of origin, evidence of teaching, recurring missions, and year of mission.

Recent Findings

We found only one article in the academic literature that fits our criteria. We found 43 individual organizations responsible for 129 individual trips in our internet search. These are characterized in this paper.


The medical literature contains few traces of short-term surgical trips in Uganda. The internet contains many traces. These traces are rich in both qualitative and quantitative data. It is possible to mine, organize, and evaluate this data to better understand what is happening on the ground in Uganda and potentially the rest of the world.


Medical mission Humanitarian mission Surgical mission Surgical trip Medical aid Surgical aid 



We would like to acknowledge the help received in conducting our Uganda internet search and databasing from the following: Diane Ellis, MD; Abigail Runnels; and Emily Stuart, BS.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Andrea N. Davis, Lily Gutnik, F. Arran Seiler, and Sean Runnels declare they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrea N. Davis
    • 1
  • Lily Gutnik
    • 2
  • F. Arran Seiler
    • 3
  • Sean Runnels
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of GeographyUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA
  2. 2.Department of SurgeryUniversity of Utah, SOMSalt Lake CityUSA
  3. 3.Department of AnesthesiologyUniversity of Utah, SOMSalt Lake CityUSA

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