Revista de Saúde Pública
On-line version ISSN 1518-8787
Print version ISSN 0034-8910
OBJECTIVE: To describe volunteers' perceptions of the beneficiaries of volunteering within the hospital setting and the influence that the theme of benefits exercises on their motivations. METHODS: This is an exploratory study with a qualitative approach. One hundred and ten volunteers working in health services that are references for the treatment of cancer in Rio de Janeiro (Southeastern Brazil) are the subjects of this study. Data was collected between October and December 2001. Data was obtained by two instruments - a questionnaire which identifies the socioeconomic profile and the motivations for undertaking voluntary activity; and a semi-structured interview that provided complementary information. RESULTS: According to the volunteers' perception, the beneficiaries of voluntary activity were, primarily, the patient, (50.5%); secondarily the volunteer him/herself (41.9%); and least of all, the institution and the society in which these benefits are obtained (7.6%). Both the patient and the volunteer were considered simultaneously beneficiaries, being that the volunteer tends to receive more benefits. A comprehension of the social benefits of this activity was also reported. CONCLUSIONS: A notion of the social importance of their volunteering was verified among the volunteers. However, the study indicates that a larger articulation is lacking between individual motivations and volunteer work as a setting within which social problems may be confronted.
Keywords : Voluntary Workers; psychology; Motivation; Cancer Care Facilities; Hospice Care; Bioethics.