Task-shifting and the recruitment and retention of eye care workers in under-served areas: a qualitative study of optometrists’ motivation in Ghana and Scotland

Joel Somerville*, Niall Strang, Sven Jonuscheit

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Aim: To assist policy makers in improving access to eye care in under-served areas by analysing the relationship between motivational factors affecting uptake of task-shifting in eye care and the recruitment and retention of optometrists in remote and rural areas.

Background: The World Health Organisation recommends two key strategies in tackling preventable blindness in under-served areas: improving human resources for health and task-shifting. The relationship between task-shifting and recruitment and retention of eye care workers in under-served areas is unknown. Ghana and Scotland are two countries from different levels of economic development that have notably expanded the roles of optometrists and struggle with rural recruitment and retention.

Methods: Motivation was explored through semi-structured interviews with 19 optometrists in Ghana and Scotland with experience of remote and rural practice. Framework analysis was used to analyse interviews, to explore the relationship between task-shifting and recruitment and retention, and create recommendations for policy.

Findings: The main motivational considerations included altruism, quality of life, learning and career opportunities, fulfilling potential, remuneration, stress of decision-making and collaboration. Motivational and demotivational factors for task-shifting and recruitment/retention shared many similar aspects.

Discussion: Recruitment and retention in remote and rural areas require staff be incentivised to take up those positions, motivated to remain, and given the adequate resources for personal and professional fulfilment. Task-shifting also requires incentivisation, motivation to continue and the resources to be productive. Many motivational factors influencing recruitment/retention and task-shifting are similar suggesting these two strategies can be compatible and complementary in improving access to eye care, although some factors are culture- and context-specific. Understanding optometrists’ motivation can help policy makers improve rural recruitment and retention and plan services.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPrimary Health Care Research and Development
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 17 Mar 2024

Keywords

  • Eye care
  • Human Resources for Health
  • Recruitment
  • Retention
  • Task-shifting

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