Community health volunteers (CHVs) play crucial roles in enabling access to healthcare at the community levels. Although CHVs are considered volunteers, programmes provide financial and non-financial incentives. However, there is limited evidence on which bundle of financial and non-financial incentives are most effective for their improved performance.
We used a discrete choice experiment (DCE) to understand incentive preferences of CHVs with the aim to improve their motivation, performance and retention. Relevant incentive attributes were identified through qualitative interviews with CHVs and with their supervisors. We then deployed a nominal group technique to generate and rank preferred attributes among CHVs. We developed a DCE based on the five attributes and administered it to 211 CHVs in Kilifi and Bungoma counties in Kenya. We used mixed multinomial logit models to estimate the utility of each incentive attribute and calculated the trade-offs the CHWs were willing to make for a change in stipend.
Transport was considered the incentive attribute with most relative importance followed by tools of trade then monthly stipend. CHVs preferred job incentives that offered higher monthly stipends even though it was not the most important. They had negative preference for job incentives that provided award mechanisms for the best performing CHVs as compared with jobs that provided recognition at the community level and preferred job incentives that provided more tools of trade compared with those that provided limited tools.
A bundled incentive of both financial and non-financial packages is necessary to provide a conducive working environment for CHVs. The menu of options relevant for CHVs in Kenya include transport, tools of trade and monthly stipend. Policy decisions should be contextualised to include these attributes to facilitate CHW satisfaction and performance.