How can we achieve and maintain high-quality performance of health workers in low-resource settings?

Alexander K. Rowe, Don De Savigny, Claudio F. Lanata, Cesar G. Victora

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

672 Scopus citations


In low and middle income countries, health workers are essential for the delivery of health interventions. However, inadequate health-worker performance is a very widespread problem. We present an overview of issues and evidence about the determinants of performance and strategies for improving it. Health-worker practices are complex behaviours that have many potential influences. Reviews of intervention studies in low and middle income countries suggest that the simple dissemination of written guidelines is often ineffective, that supervision and audit with feedback is generally effective, and that multifaceted interventions might be more effective than single interventions. Few interventions have been evaluated with rigorous cost-effectiveness trials, and such studies are urgently needed to guide policy. We propose an international collaborative research agenda to generate knowledge about the true determinants of performance and about the effectiveness of strategies to improve performance. Furthermore, we recommend that ministries of health and international organisations should actively help translate research findings into action to improve health-worker performance, and thereby improve health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1026-1035
Number of pages10
JournalThe Lancet
Issue number9490
StatePublished - Sep 17 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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