Dual job holding practitioners in Bangladesh: an exploration

Soc Sci Med. 2002 Jan;54(2):267-79. doi: 10.1016/s0277-9536(01)00026-0.


This paper analyses the system of financial and non-financial incentives underlying job preferences of doctors in Bangladesh who work both in government health services and in private practice. The study is based on a survey of 100 government-employed doctors with private practice, across different levels of care and geographical areas. In-depth interviews were carried out in a sub-sample of 28 respondents. The study explores the beliefs and attitudes towards the arrangements of joint private/public practice, establishes profiles of fee levels and earnings and examines the options to change the incentive system in a way that ensures an increased involvement of dual job holding practitioners in the priority areas of care. Consultation fees were Tk120 on average (range Tk20-300) and found to be correlated with the qualification of the practice owner and the type of service offered. A majority of the respondents reported at least to double their government income by engaging in private practice. Significant predictors of total income included the number of patients seen in private practice (p=0.000), employment in a secondary or tertiary care facility (p=0.001) and ownership of premises for private practice (p=0.033). Age was found to be marginally significant (p=0.084). No association was found between total income and specialisation, private practice costs, level of government salary or a degree from abroad. The data suggest that doctors have adopted individual strategies to accommodate the advantages of both government employment and private practice in their career development, thus maximising benefit from the incentives provided to them e.g. status of a government job, and minimising opportunity costs of economic losses e.g. lower salaries. Commitment to government services was found to be greater among doctors in primary health care who reported they would give up private practice if paid a higher salary. Among doctors in secondary and tertiary care, the propensity to give up private practice was found to be low. Financial incentives that aim to increase numbers of doctors in rural areas, such as a non-private-practice allowance, are more likely to be appreciated by doctors who are at the beginning of their career. Improved training and career opportunities also appear to be of high importance for job satisfaction. Policy changes to ensure a better resource allocation to the priority areas of the health sector have to reflect an understanding of the incentives generated by the organisational and financial context within which dual job holding practitioners operate.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Ambulatory Care / economics*
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Bangladesh
  • Career Mobility
  • Fees, Medical / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Care Rationing
  • Hospital-Physician Joint Ventures / economics
  • Humans
  • Income / statistics & numerical data
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Private Practice / economics*
  • Private Practice / standards
  • Public Health Practice / economics*
  • Public Health Practice / standards
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care
  • Referral and Consultation / economics
  • Reimbursement, Incentive*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Workforce