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Open Access Research article

Burden experienced by community health volunteers in Taiwan: a survey

Yueh-Mei Gau12*, Petra Buettner3, Kim Usher4 and Lee Stewart1

Author affiliations

1 School of Nursing, Midwifery & Nutrition, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD 4810, Australia

2 Department of Nursing, Chang Gung University of Science and Technology, Taoyuan, Taiwan

3 School of Public Health, Tropical medicine & Rehabilitation Sciences James Cook University, Townsville, QLD 4810, Australia

4 School of Nursing, Midwifery & Nutrition James Cook University, Cairns, Australia

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Citation and License

BMC Public Health 2013, 13:491  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-491

Published: 21 May 2013

Abstract

Background

Volunteers in Taiwan complement the delivery of health services by paid health professionals. However, in doing so, community health volunteers experience burdens associated with their activities. The reasons for these burdens and degree to which they are experienced are explored in this paper. Our study adds to international research regarding the burden experienced by volunteers. This project is the first to assess how community health volunteers in Taiwan experience burden.

Methods

The 20 item Burden on Community Health Volunteer (BCHV) instrument, specifically designed for this project, was administered to 435 volunteers attached to Community Health Promotion Development Centres in northern Taiwan.

Results

The overall burden experienced by volunteers is relatively low. However, a multivariate adjusted regression analysis revealed significant differences in volunteer burden depending on the number of people each volunteer served on average per week, as well as the volunteer’s marital status and their perceptions about personal health. Volunteers who served many people and who perceived their own health as poor experienced a higher level of burden. Those who were a widow or a widower felt less burdened than others.

Conclusions

The results of the study identify areas where burden is high and where strategies can be developed to reduce the level of burden experienced by community health volunteers in Taiwan. Community health volunteers in Taiwan complement the role of nurses and other health care providers so their retention is important to ongoing service delivery.

Keywords:
Burden; Volunteers; Community health volunteers; Health promotion