Characterizing Methods for Surveying Partner Nation Medical Capabilities

Alexandra Stone, Eric Regalbuto, Ramey L. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Introduction: Medical capability surveys provide information about how U.S. forces can coordinate with partner nations to leverage partners’ capabilities to deliver care to sick or injured U.S. service members. Rotating forces routinely conduct these surveys. Currently, medical capability surveys are conducted based on individual unit requirements and personnel expertise and stored locally on component-specific sites or individual computers. The lack of a systematic approach and a centralized survey depot may undermine the ability to access previous surveys, leading to redundant surveys and conflicting information, and may have critical implications for force health protection. Partner nation facilities could have capabilities that may be leveraged to care for U.S. service members when U.S. medical care is unavailable. A lack of understanding of medical capabilities at partner nation facilities may undermine the ability to plan missions that mitigate risks. Materials and Methods: This paper presents the results of 12 semi-structured focus groups with representatives from the U.S. Africa Command Surgeon’s office, the U.S. Transportation Command Patient Movement Requirements Center-East, and 9 U.S. Africa Command service components, sub-unified commands, and force providers. The focus group discussions considered questions on the following four topics: (1) methods for conducting surveys, (2) guidance about how to conduct surveys, (3) nodes of care and ancillary services included in surveys, and (4) how medical capability surveys are used to inform medical planning. The team conducted thematic analysis to identify emergent themes and subthemes. Results: The team identified five primary, overarching themes: (1) guidance for conducting medical capability surveys, (2) methods and tools for conducting surveys, (3) content and focus of medical capability surveys, (4) archiving and sharing surveys, and (5) uses of medical capability surveys. Conclusions: Implementing guidance and standardized templates for conducting medical capability surveys could improve the accuracy and completeness of surveys. Templates would likely increase the likelihood that surveyors collect relevant information on key medical capabilities. Training, along with guidance and templates, would provide a common understanding of how to conduct surveys. The lack of a DoD Global Health Engagement collaborative depot for storing and sharing surveys may undermine the ability to access previous surveys to inform future surveys and, thereby, results in inefficiencies in how surveys are conducted. The DoD should consider establishing a collaborative depot for medical capability surveys along with guidance or requirements for uploading surveys. Guidance, templates, training, and a collaborative depot could improve the effectiveness and efficiency of medical planning and thereby increase mission readiness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E2249-E2256
JournalMilitary Medicine
Issue number7-8
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2023
Externally publishedYes


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