Development of a brief instrument for assessing healthcare employee satisfaction in a low-income setting

PLoS One. 2013 Nov 5;8(11):e79053. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0079053. eCollection 2013.


Background: Ethiopia is one of 57 countries identified by the World Health Report 2006 as having a severely limited number of health care professionals. In recognition of this shortage, the Ethiopian Federal Ministry of Health, through the Ethiopian Hospital Management Initiative, prioritized the need to improve retention of health care workers. Accordingly, we sought to develop the Satisfaction of Employees in Health Care (SEHC) survey for use in hospitals and health centers throughout Ethiopia.

Methods: Literature reviews and cognitive interviews were used to generate a staff satisfaction survey for use in the Ethiopian healthcare setting. We pretested the survey in each of the six hospitals and four health centers across Ethiopia (98% response rate). We assessed content validity and convergent validity using factor analysis and examined reliability using the Cronbach alpha coefficients to assess internal consistency. The final survey was comprised of 18 questions about specific aspects of an individual's work and two overall staff satisfaction questions.

Results: We found support for content validity, as data from the 18 responses factored into three factors, which we characterized as 1) relationship with management and supervisors, 2) job content, and 3) relationships with coworkers. Summary scores for two factors (relationship with management and supervisors and job content) were significantly associated (P-value, <0.001) with the two overall satisfaction items. Cronbach's alpha coefficients showed good to excellent internal consistency (Cronbach alpha coefficients >0.70) for the items in the three summary scores.

Conclusions: The introduction of consistent and reliable measures of staff satisfaction is crucial to understand and improve employee retention rates, which threaten the successful achievement of the Millennium Development Goals in low-income countries. The use of the SEHC survey in Ethiopian healthcare facilities has ample leadership support, which is essential for addressing problems that reduce staff satisfaction and exacerbate excessive workforce shortages.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Community Health Centers
  • Data Collection / methods
  • Data Collection / statistics & numerical data
  • Ethiopia
  • Health Personnel / psychology*
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Job Satisfaction*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Salaries and Fringe Benefits / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*

Grant support

This study was supported, by a grant from the Centers for Disease Control; Clinton Health Access Initiative (1U2GPS0028242). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.