The impact of hospital management reforms on absenteeism in Costa Rica

Health Policy Plan. 2006 Mar;21(2):91-100. doi: 10.1093/heapol/czj015. Epub 2006 Jan 16.


The reduction of high levels of absenteeism among health care workers was one the objectives of the reforms undertaken to improve public hospital performance during the 1990s in Costa Rica. This paper attempts to assess the impact of changes in reimbursement methods and organizational reform on absence rates among health care personnel in Costa Rican public hospitals for the period 1995-2001. Our results show the reforms to have had a negative impact on absenteeism, which increased throughout the considered period. Results further indicate that the policy of not substituting absentee workers, which was introduced through the reforms, did not work as expected in a permissive environment in which peer pressure mechanisms were lacking. In addition, the explicit incentives for workers included in the reforms were retained and used at facility level. There is a pressing need in the future for control and disciplinary mechanisms for health care personnel and for the introduction of absence rates as an explicit goal to be monitored and evaluated.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absenteeism*
  • Costa Rica
  • Hospital Administration*
  • Humans
  • Organizational Innovation*