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The impact of health worker absenteeism on patient health care seeking behavior, testing and treatment: a longitudinal analysis in Uganda

Zhang, H. and Fink, G. and Cohen, J.. (2021) The impact of health worker absenteeism on patient health care seeking behavior, testing and treatment: a longitudinal analysis in Uganda. PLoS One, 16 (8). e0256437.

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Abstract

INTRODUCTION: Absenteeism of frontline health workers in public sector facilities is widespread in low-income countries. There is little quantitative evidence on how health worker absenteeism influences patient treatment seeking behavior, though low public sector utilization and heavy reliance on the informal sector are well documented in low-income settings. METHODS: Using a unique panel dataset covering health facilities and households over a 10-month period in Uganda, we investigate the extent to which health worker absenteeism (defined as zero health workers present at a health facility) impacts patient care seeking behavior, testing, and treatment. RESULTS: We find high rates of health worker absenteeism at public sector health facilities, with most of the absenteeism occurring at lower level public health clinics. On average, no health worker was present in 42% of all days monitored in lowest level public health clinics, whereas this number was less than 5% in high level public hospitals and private facilities. In our preferred empirical model with household fixed effects, we find that health worker absenteeism reduces the odds that a patient seeks care in the public sector (OR = 0.65, 95% CI = 0.44-0.95) and receives malaria testing (OR = 0.73, 95% CI = 0.53-0.99) and increases the odds of paying out-of-pocket for treatment (OR = 1.41, 95% CI = 1.10-1.80). The estimated differences in care-seeking are larger for children under-five than for the overall study population. CONCLUSIONS: The impact of health worker absenteeism on the quality of care received as well as the financial burden faced by households in sub-Saharan Africa is substantial.
Faculties and Departments:09 Associated Institutions > Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH)
UniBasel Contributors:Fink, G√ľnther and Walter, Hanna
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
ISSN:1932-6203 (Electronic)1932-6203 (Linking)
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
Language:English
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Last Modified:21 Dec 2022 12:55
Deposited On:21 Dec 2022 12:55

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