Back to Journals » Journal of Healthcare Leadership » Volume 8

Regulatory mechanisms for absenteeism in the health sector: a systematic review of strategies and their implementation

Authors Kisakye AN, Tweheyo R, Ssengooba F, Pariyo GW, Rutebemberwa E, Kiwanuka SN

Received 3 March 2016

Accepted for publication 6 July 2016

Published 9 November 2016 Volume 2016:8 Pages 81—94


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Russell Taichman

Angela N Kisakye,1 Raymond Tweheyo,1 Freddie Ssengooba,1 George W Pariyo,2 Elizeus Rutebemberwa,1 Suzanne N Kiwanuka1

Department of Health Policy Planning and Management, Makerere University School of Public Health, Kampala, Uganda; 2Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, USA

Background: A systematic review was undertaken to identify regulatory mechanisms aimed at mitigating health care worker absenteeism, to describe where and how they have been implemented as well as their possible effects. The goal was to propose potential policy options for managing the problem of absenteeism among human resources for health in low- and middle-income countries. Mechanisms described in this review are at the local workplace and broader national policy level.
Methods: A comprehensive online search was conducted on EMBASE, CINAHL, PubMed, Google Scholar, Google, and Social Science Citation Index using MEDLINE search terms. Retrieved studies were uploaded onto reference manager and screened by two independent reviewers. Only publications in English were included. Data were extracted and synthesized according to the objectives of the review.
Results: Twenty six of the 4,975 published articles retrieved were included. All were from high-income countries and covered all cadres of health workers. The regulatory mechanisms and possible effects include 1) organizational-level mechanisms being reported as effective in curbing absenteeism in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs); 2) prohibition of private sector activities in LMICs offering benefits but presenting a challenge for the government to monitor the health workforce; 3) contractual changes from temporary to fixed posts having been associated with no reduction in absenteeism and not being appropriate for LMICs; 4) multifaceted work interventions being implemented in most settings; 5) the possibility of using financial and incentive regulatory mechanisms in LMICs; 6) health intervention mechanisms reducing absenteeism when integrated with exercise programs; and 7) attendance by legislation during emergencies being criticized for violating human rights in the United States and not being effective in curbing absenteeism.
Conclusion: Most countries have applied multiple strategies to mitigate health care worker absenteeism. The success of these interventions is heavily influenced by the context within which they are applied.

absenteeism, health workers, regulatory mechanisms, systematic review

Creative Commons License This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution - Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License. By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms.

Download Article [PDF]  View Full Text [HTML][Machine readable]