Development and validation of a multi-dimensional scale to assess community health worker motivation

J Glob Health. 2021 Mar 10:11:07008. doi: 10.7189/jogh.11.07008.


Background: Ensuring that Community Health Workers (CHWs) are motivated is critical to their performance, retention and well-being - and ultimately to the effectiveness of community health systems worldwide. While CHW motivation is as multi-dimensional construct, there is no multi-dimensional measure available to guide programming. In this study, we developed and validated a pragmatic, multi-dimensional measure of CHW motivation.

Methods: Scale validation entailed qualitative and survey research in Mali and Bangladesh. We developed a pool of work satisfaction items as well as several items assessing the importance of hypothesized sub-dimensions of motivation, based on the literature and expert consultations. Qualitative research helped finalize scale sub-dimensions and items. We tested the scale in surveys with CHWs in Mali (n = 152, 40% female, mean age 32) and Bangladesh (n = 76 women, mean age 46). We applied a split-sample exploratory/confirmatory factor analysis (EFA/CFA) in Mali, and EFA in Bangladesh, then assessed reliability. We also gauged convergent/predictive validity, assessing associations between scale scores with conceptually related variables.

Results: The final 22-item scale has four sub-dimensions: Quality of supervision, Feeling valued and capacitated in your work, Peer respect and support, and Compensation and workload. Model fit in CFAs was good, as were reliabilities for the full scale (alpha: 0.84 in Mali, 0.93 in Bangladesh) and all sub-dimensions. To construct scores for the final scale, we weighted the scores for each sub-dimension by CHW-reported importance of that sub-dimension. Final possible range was -6 to +6 (sub-dimensions), -24 to +24 (full scale). Mean (standard deviation) of full-scale scores were 5.0 (3.3) in Mali and 14.5 (5.3) in Bangladesh. In both countries, higher motivation was significantly associated with higher overall interest in their work, feeling able to improve health/well-being in their community, as well as indicators of higher performance and retention.

Conclusions: We found that the Multi-dimensional Motivation (MM) scale for CHWs is a valid and reliable measure that comprehensively assesses motivation. We recommend the scale be employed in future research around CHW performance and community health systems strengthening worldwide. The scale should be further evaluated within longitudinal studies assessing CHW performance and retention outcomes over time.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Community Health Workers*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Job Satisfaction
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Reproducibility of Results