First Advisor

Erin Shortlidge

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Science and University Honors




Volunteer workers in medical care -- United States, Volunteers -- Attitudes, Clinics -- United States, Helping behavior, Voluntarism




Even with the affordable healthcare act, as of May 2014, 13.4% of US adults do not have healthcare coverage. In addition to this, of the 7 million illegal immigrants, more than half do not have health insurance. These two numbers mean that there are millions who rely on free health care in order to take care of themselves. Though some doctors take on patients "pro-bono," the majority of these people are treated in free clinics often staffed by volunteers. The need for volunteers in these free clinics is well known, but what motivates these volunteers to give their time? This study aims to answer that question.

To identify these motivations, volunteers in free clinics were recruited to participate in semi-structured interviews. Participants answered questions regarding what motivated them to volunteer in the free clinic environment. The interviews were coded using open-coding and grounded theory. Preliminary data indicates that there was a high frequency recurring things including: community, social rewards, and beliefs regarding access to healthcare. Results included a 57% occurrence of "intrinsic" rewards as a motivation for volunteering. Additionally, 72% of people interviewed said that volunteering was a way for them to feel a part of a community. Based on these results, next steps will include distributing an already developed survey instrument (Volunteer Functions Inventory) to further explore themes found in the interviews.


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Persistent Identifier

Appendix A.pdf (537 kB)
Appendix B.docx (13 kB)
Appendix C.pdf (186 kB)
Appendix D.pdf (326 kB)