Background: The Olympic and Paralympic Games rely heavily on volunteers to provide many essential services, including medical care of athletes.
Objective: This preliminary investigation sought to characterise the motivational influences and factors responsible for the satisfaction of Olympic and Paralympic healthcare volunteers.
Methods: The 2002 Winter Games polyclinic healthcare volunteers were asked to complete a questionnaire designed to elicit information about their motives for volunteering and the factors that contributed to their satisfaction with their volunteer experience.
Results: There was no significant difference in the motivation or satisfaction summary scores based on event worked. There was a strong positive correlation between motivation and satisfaction. Physician respondents had a lower mean motivation score than did non-physician volunteers.
Conclusions: There were no significant motivational differences between Olympic and Paralympic volunteers, but there were several differences noted between physician and non-physician volunteers. The 2002 polyclinic volunteers appear to have been motivated by a complex process best described as "enlightened self interest," and all were generally well satisfied with their experience. These results may assist organisers of future Games in selecting appropriately motivated volunteer personnel and creating rewarding work environments for them.