Research Opportunities

Are you interested in studying the prevalence of malaria or intestinal worms in underserved communities in Guatemala?

Perhaps you have a hypothesis that teaching Mayan midwives about postpartum hemorrhage will reduce maternal mortality.

We offer opportunities to create and build on evidence-based healthcare in an international setting.

If you have a project in mind that aligns our overall mission, Refuge International might be able to help you achieve your research goals. We encourage individual investigators who wish to study international health and healthcare to join one of our medical mission teams. Our projects are focused primarily on basic healthcare, adequate nutrition, clean water and education.

Click here to let us know your idea and see if we can build a collaborative research effort.

Chronic Health Conditions in Rural Caribbean Guatemala

Authors:   William H. Young; Alana Carrasco; Joel Rodriguez; Lucio Zapata; Yolande Pengetnze MD; Patti Pagels MPAS, PA-C

The purpose of this research is to characterize the presence of chronic health conditions among healthcare seekers in the underserved indigenous community of Sarstún, Izabal Department, Guatemala.

Download the Abstract

Jornadas Medicine

Author:  Durward A. Watson, PA-C, of UT Southwestern Medical School

I am a Physician Assistant at UT Southwestern who helped accompany PA students along with John Cane, PA-C in March 2018 for a medical mission trip to Sarstún. I had a great time, learned a lot and am interested in volunteering again in 2019. I am forwarding a presentation that I gave to my fellow faculty in the Infectious Disease Division at UTSW following our trip.

Download the Presentation


Prenatal Care and Education

Download the graduate projects of two candidates for Master of Physician Assistant Studies at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas:

Kimberly Garcia of Madre y Nino has been educating midwives in Guatemala for over 15 years and has conducted several studies during Refuge International mission trips. Her published research papers bring great insights into improving the quality of care that lay midwives can bring to the rural areas of Guatemala.


  • Garcia, K, Armstrong, C, Iacob, E, Flynn, E, Rodriguez, A, Simmons, Molly, Gonzalez, Z. Pretest Posttest Evaluation with Lay Midwives in Remote Guatemala after Educational Activities about COVID-19. Remote and Rural Health, in press. (Data-based.)
  • Garcia, K, Iacob, E, Dean-Smith, M, Royce, E, Alvarez, G, Kepka, D. (2024). Low levels of lifetime pap test receipt among vulnerable Guatemalans. Journal of Cancer Education, in press. (Data-based.)
  • Garcia, K, Gee, J. (2023). Pretest-Posttest Evaluation of Change in Knowledge and Knowledge Retention after Educational Activities with Low-Literacy Lay Midwives in Urban Guatemala. Journal of Academy of Health Sciences. (Data-based.)
  • Taylor-Swanson, L, Taylor, B, Bell, L, Boccino, J, Dillard, M, Howell, CS, Geppelt, C, Taft Nelson, A, Citkovitz, C, Alvarez, G, Wen, T, Garcia, K. (2024). Training Guatemalan Lay Midwives in Acupressure for Preterm and Post-term Labor, Medical Acupuncture, in press. (Data-based.)
  • Taylor-Swanson, L, Taylor, B, Bell, L, Boccino, J, Dillard, M, Howell, CS, Geppelt, C, Taft Nelson, A, Citkovitz, C, Alvarez, G, Wen, T, Garcia, K. (2024). Volunteer Primary Care Providers’ Experience with Referring Guatemalan Patients for Acupuncture Care in a Pilot, Integrative, Health Care Clinic, Medical Acupuncture, in press. (Data-based.)
  • Taylor-Swanson LJ, Tu W, Howell CS, Dillard MP, Bell L, Nelson AT, Geppelt C, Boccino JM, Taylor E, Alvarez G, Citkovitz C, Johnson K, Garcia K. (2023). Delivering Acupuncture Therapy in an Interdisciplinary Global Health Setting in Guatemala: Pilot Study and Lessons Learned. Med Acupunct. 2023 Aug 1;35(4):163-169. doi: 10.1089/acu.2023.0023. Epub 2023 Aug 14. PMID: 37609548; PMCID: PMC10440642. (Data-based.)
  • Garcia, K. (2022). An Observational Study of Teaching Methods with Low-Literacy Comadronas in Urban Guatemala. Canadian Journal of Midwifery Research and Practice, Volume 21, Number 3. (Data-based.)
  • Garcia, K., and Kilanowski, J. (2019). Senales de Peligro: Guatemalan Lay Midwives’ Perceptions of Responding to Obstetrical Complications. Journal of Transcultural Nursing, 31(6) 547-553. (Data-based.)
  • Garcia, K., Dowling, D., Mettler, G. (2018). Teaching Guatemalan Traditional Birth Attendants about Obstetrical Emergencies. Midwifery, 6(62), 36-38 (Data-based.)
  • Garcia, K., Morrison, B, Savrin, C. (2012). Teaching Guatemalan midwives about postpartum hemorrhage. Journal of Maternal and Child Nursing, 37(1), 42-47. (Data-based.)
  • Garcia, K., Kilanowski, J., Morrison, B. (2012). Focus group with Guatemalan traditional midwives about postpartum hemorrhage. Online Journal of Cultural Competence in Nursing and Healthcare, 2(2), 1-10 (Data-based.)

Assessing Community Interest in Health Education Through Medical Missions

Author:  Maria Ruiz, B.S., of UT Southwestern Medical School

“I took part in two annual UTSW Medical School trips to Chocolá. This year, one of the resident family medicine physicians attending wished to conduct a short survey of the patients to help us as medical students find ways to be more involved, since our utility as clinicians is limited.

We conducted a survey asking patients what kind of health topics they would like to learn about, in hopes of organizing a short oral presentation for the patients over a topic they would like to learn about to be taught by medical students.

I wrote up the results of the survey with a couple of my colleagues and was able to transform the findings into a poster presentation that I presented at the 10th Annual JPS Research Day “Advancing Health Equity through Research & Education” Conference on June 3rd, 2016 in Ft. Worth, Texas. I wanted to share with you the poster that I presented, since thanks to Refuge International, I had the opportunity to do this and be part of the wonderful mission trip to Chocolá.”