Human Resources

‘I am treated well if I adhere to my HIV medication’: putting patient–provider interactions in context through insights from qualitative research in five sub-Saharan African countries
Ondenge K; Renju J; Bonnington O; et al.: Jo Sexually Transmitted Infections 93 (Issue Supplement 3), doi:, 2017

The nature of patient–provider interactions and communication is widely documented to significantly impact on patient experiences, treatment adherence and health outcomes. Yet little is known about the broader contextual factors and dynamics that shape patient–provider interactions in high HIV prevalence and limited-resource settings. Drawing on qualitative research from five sub-Saharan African countries, the authors seek to unpack local dynamics that serve to hinder or facilitate productive patient–provider interactions. This qualitative study, conducted in Kisumu (Kenya), Kisesa (Tanzania), Manicaland (Zimbabwe), Karonga (Malawi) and uMkhanyakude (South Africa), draws upon 278 in-depth interviews with purposively sampled people living with HIV with different diagnosis and treatment histories, 29 family members of people who died due to HIV and 38 HIV healthcare workers. Data were collected using topic guides that explored patient testing and antiretroviral therapy treatment journeys. The authors analysis revealed an array of inter-related contextual factors and power dynamics shaping patient–provider interactions. These included participants’ perceptions of roles and identities of ‘self’ and ‘other’; conformity or resistance to the ‘rules of HIV service engagement’ and a ‘patient-persona’; the influence of significant others’ views on service provision; and resources in health services. They observed that these four factors/dynamics were located in the wider context of conceptualisations of power, autonomy and structure. They argue that patient–provider interaction is complex, multidimensional and deeply embedded in wider social dynamics, and that interventions to improve patient experiences and treatment adherence through enhanced interactions need to go beyond the existing focus on patient–provider communication strategies.

‘Why do an MPH?’ Motivations and intentions of physicians undertaking postgraduate public health training at the University of Cape Town
Zweigenthal VE, Marquez E; London L: Global Health Action, 9(1), 2017

Public health (PH) approaches underpin the management and transformation of health systems in low- and middle-income countries. Despite the Master of Public Health (MPH) rarely being a prerequisite for health service employment in South Africa, many physicians pursue MPH. This study identified their motivations and career intentions and explored MPH programme strengths and gaps in under- and post-graduate PH training. A cross-sectional study using an online questionnaire was completed by physicians graduating with an MPH between 2000 and 2009 and those enrolled in the programme in 2010 at the University of Cape Town. Nearly a quarter of MPH students were physicians. Of the 65 contactable physicians, 48% responded. They were mid-career physicians who wished to obtain research training (55%), who wished to gain broader perspectives on health (32%), and who used the MPH to advance careers (90%) as researchers, policy-makers, or managers. The MPH widened professional opportunities, with 62% changing jobs. They believed that inadequate undergraduate exposure should be remedied by applying PH approaches to clinical problems in community settings, which would increase the attractiveness of postgraduate PH training. The MPH was found to allow physicians to transition from pure clinical to research, policy and/or management work, preparing them to innovate changes for effective health systems, responsive to the health needs of populations.

“They have been neglected for a long time”: a qualitative study on the role and recognition of rural health motivators in the Shiselweni region, Eswatini
Walker C; Burtscher D; Myeni J et al: Human Resources for Health 18(66) 1-9, doi:, 2020

This study was implemented to understand the role of rural health motivators (RHMs) in decentralised HIV/TB activities. Participants were purposively selected RHMs, community stakeholders and local and non-government personnel. Significant confusion of the RHM role was observed, with community expectations beyond formally endorsed tasks. Community participants expressed dissatisfaction with receiving health information only, preferring physical assistance in the form of goods. Gender emerged as a significant influencing factor on the acceptability of health messages and RHM engagement with community members. The findings highlight the lack of recognition of RHMs at community and national levels, hindering their capacity to successfully contribute to positive health outcomes for rural communities.

“Why should I have come here?” - a qualitative investigation of migration reasons and experiences of health workers from sub-Saharan Africa in Austria
Jirovsky E; Hoffmann K; Maier M; Kutalek R: BMC Health Services Research 15(74), 2015

This paper explored the reasons African health workers raised for migration to Austria, as well as their personal experiences concerning the living and working situation in Austria. The authors conducted semi-structured, qualitative interviews with African health workers approached via professional networks and a snowball system. For most of the participants, the decision to migrate was not professional but situation dependent. Austria was not their first choice as a destination country. Several study participants left their countries to improve their overall working situation. The main motivation for migrating to Austria was partnership with an Austrian citizen. Other immigrants were refugees. Most of the immigrants found the accreditation process to work as a health professional to be difficult, resulting in some not being able to work in their profession. There was also reported experience of discrimination, but also of positive support.