Publication Title

Journal of Service-Learning in Higher Education

Medical Subject Headings

Cultural Competency, Problem-Based Learning, Patient Care Teams, Students, Culturally Competent Care, Occupational Therapy


Introduction: Limited research exists on effective pre-departure training (PDT) for interprofessional healthcare disciplines participating in international service-learning (ISL), particularly to resource-limited settings.

Method: A convenience sample of 21 physical and occupational therapy students and clinicians who participated in four 1-hour PDT sessions were included in this mixed-methods study. Training consisted of informative, reflective, and simulation experiences to enhance self-awareness, teambuilding, cultural knowledge, and in support of trip preparations. Training session debriefings were transcribed and coded. The Cross-Cultural Adaptability Inventory (CCAITM) was administered pre-training and post-experience.

Results: Qualitative data showed emerging themes around collaboration, mentorship, empowerment, opportunity, preparedness, self-awareness, and confidence Quantitative analysis of CCAI TM data revealed significant median differences between a) all participant’s CCAI™ scores for perceptual acuity pre = 49.29 and post =51.38 (p =.018); as well as b) students CCAI™ scores of perceptual acuity pre=49.80, post =51.46 (p=.040); and c) clinicians CCAI™ personal autonomy scores pre=31.00 and post= 33.16 (p =.042).

Discussion: Participants demonstrated improved ability to perceive the needs of this novel culturally novel community and respond appropriately to community members and across healthcare disciplines.

Conclusion: Pre-departure training prepares healthcare providers for international service, enhances emotional intelligence, improves inter-professional collaboration, and promotes more continuously sustainable services.




Winter 2021


Copyright 2021: Trotter, Dunnivan-Mitchell, Borman, Kent, & Oliva.

Originally published as:

Trotter, S., Dunnivan-Mitchell, S., Borman, N., Kent, A., & Oliva, B. (2021). Pre-departure training is essential for preparing healthcare teams for service-learning to resource-limited countries. Journal of Service Learning in Higher Education, 12(Winter 2021).