What do health workers in Timor-Leste want, know and do? Findings from a national health labour market survey
Zaman, Rashid U.
Sullivan, Eileen B.
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Hou, X., Witter, S., Zaman, R., Engelhardt, K., Hafidz, F., Julia, F., Lemiere, C., Sullivan, E., Saldanha, E., Palu, T. & Lievens, T. (2016) What do health workers in Timor-Leste want, know and do? Findings from a national health labour market survey. Human Resources for Health, 14:69.
Background The objectives of this study were to understand the labour market dynamics among health workers, including their preferences and concerns, and to assess the skills, competence and performance (i.e. the 'know-do gap') of doctors working in Timor-Leste. Methods This cross-sectional survey was implemented in all 13 districts of Timor-Leste in 2014. We surveyed 443 health workers, including 175 doctors, 150 nurses and 118 midwives (about 20% of the health workers in the country). We also observed 632 clinical consultations with doctors, including 442 direct clinical observations, and tested 190 vignettes. Results The study highlights some positive findings, including the gender balance of health workers overall, the concentration of doctors in rural areas, the high overall reported satisfaction of staff with their work and high motivation, the positive intention to stay in the public sector, the feeling of being well prepared by training for work, the relatively frequent and satisfactory supervisions, and the good attitudes towards patients as identified in observations and vignettes. However, some areas require more investigations and investments. The overall clinical performance of the doctors was very good in terms of attitude and moderate in regard to history taking, health education and treatment. However, the average physical examination performance score was low. Doctors performed better with simulated cases than the real cases in general, which means they have better knowledge and skills than they actually demonstrated. The factors that were significantly associated with the clinical performance of doctors were location of the health facility (urban doctors were better) and consultation time (cases with more consultation time were better). Regression analysis suggests that lack of knowledge was significantly associated with lack of performance, while lack of motivation and equipment were not significant. Conclusions The survey provides essential information for workforce planning and for developing training policies and terms and conditions that will attract and retain health workers in rural service. Improving the work environment and performance of doctors working in rural health facilities and ensuring compliance with clinical protocols are two priority areas needed to improve the performance of doctors in Timor-Leste.