Health Worker Retention Survey Tested in Uganda

CapacityPlus staff Laura Wurts, associate partner African Population & Health Research Center staff George Mgomella, and consultant Peter Rockers initiated field testing in August of an innovative, user-friendly assessment tool to address the attraction and retention of priority human resources for health cadres in rural and remote areas in Uganda.

Medical officer students in UgandaThe rapid retention survey tool is based on the discrete choice experiment—a rigorous method for predicting decision-making using stated preferences data—and will allow human resources managers to conduct motivation and retention assessments on their own with minimal need for external assistance. This will foster long-term sustainability.

CapacityPlus partnered with the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Public Service, and faith-based organizations to form a 14-member data collection team. The team participated in a day-long training, led by CapacityPlus, for detailed orientation to the computer-based assessment tool, data collection plan and scripts, travel schedule, computer usage, and data management protocols.

The training was followed by two weeks of data collection in which the team surveyed 700 respondents, comprised of practicing health workers and final-year health students from priority cadres. The team sampled health workers in health center IVs and referral hospitals in 20 districts, surveying three target cadres: medical officers, nursing officers, and laboratory technicians. CapacityPlus also surveyed final-year health students from five universities and/or schools in four health cadres: medical, nursing, pharmacy, and laboratory science. The project achieved response rates of over 85% from sampled respondents.

The results from this recently completed rapid assessment, along with CapacityPlus’s retention costing tool that will be field tested in Uganda in November, will assist the Uganda Ministry of Health in decision-making on the most appropriate incentive packages and their costs to improve the attraction and retention of health workers. Once the rapid retention assessment and retention intervention costing tools are fully completed, CapacityPlus will build the capacity of selected Ministry of Health and faith-based organization staff to effectively utilize these tools.

Photo: Laura Wurts. (Final-year medical officer students at Mbarara University of Science and Technology, completing CapacityPlus’s rapid assessment to improve retention and attraction to rural areas.)