Views & Reviews In and Out of Hospital

Health risks of volunteering

BMJ 2009; 338 doi: (Published 12 June 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b2404
  1. James Owen Drife, retired professor of obstetrics and gynaecology, Leeds
  1. J.O.Drife{at}

    The urge to do voluntary work overseas is strongest at the extremes of medical life. If, like me, you are an ageing academic, think carefully. Your health is precious, and there are several hazards that aren’t mentioned on the Foreign Office website.

    Physical violence: The Foreign Office advises you to be sensible and avoid high risk areas, but that isn’t always possible. In South Kensington, for example, the desire to throttle someone can become overwhelming as you wait for hours …

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