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Research in Human Resources for Health in China: An application of Discrete Choice Experiment

*Xiaoyun Liu, Peking University 


Severe shortage and mal-distribution of health workers is a long existing challenge in Human Resources for Health (HRH) in many developing countries. Health workers’ job preferences and job choices are determined by various external and intrinsic factors. This study aims to quantitatively measure job preferences of health workers in rural areas and to analyze their responses to the currently ongoing health system reform in China in relation to attraction and retention. An innovative approach of Discrete Choice Experiment (DCE) was applied to study the determinants of health workers’ job preferences. It found that Income level is the most important factor for health workers’ attraction and retention. Other important factors include formal position, training opportunities, career development (especially for young physicians), education opportunities for their children (especially for female health workers), and workload (especially for nurses). We conclude that government should take a leading role in responding to the inequitable distribution of health workers, especially in resource poor settings where health workers’ income are far beyond a satisfactory level. The application of DCE should be in close collaboration with relevant policy makers for the research to have policy engagement.