Assessing the feasibility and acceptability of a financial versus behavioural incentive-based intervention for community health workers in rural Indonesia

Gadsden T., Jan S., Sujarwoto S., Kusumo B.E., Palagyi A.

The George Institute for Global Health, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia; Faculty of Medicine and Health, The University of Sydney School of Public Health, Sydney, Australia; Department of Public Administration, University of Brawijaya, Malang, Indonesia


Background: The World Health Organization recommends that community health workers (CHWs) receive a mix of financial and non-financial incentives, yet notes that there is limited evidence to support the use of one type of incentive (i.e. financial or non-financial) over another. In preparation for a larger scale trial, we investigated the acceptability and feasibility of two different forms of incentives for CHWs in Malang District, Indonesia. Methods: CHWs working on a cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk screening and management programme in two villages were assigned to receive either a financial or non-financial incentive for 6 months. In the financial incentives village, CHWs (n = 20) received 16,000 IDR (USD 1.1) per patient followed up or 500,000 IDR (USD 34.1) if they followed up 100% of their assigned high-risk CVD patients each month. In the non-financial incentive village, CHWs (n = 20) were eligible to receive a Quality Care Certificate for following up the highest number of high-risk CVD patients each month, awarded in a public ceremony. At the end of the 6-month intervention period, focus group discussions were conducted with CHWs and semi-structured interviews with programme administrators to investigate acceptability, facilitators and barriers to implementation and feasibility of the incentive models. Data on monthly CHW follow-up activity were analysed using descriptive statistics to assess the preliminary impact of each incentive on service delivery outcomes, and CHW motivation levels were assessed pre- and post-implementation. Results: Factors beyond the control of the study significantly interrupted the implementation of the financial incentive, particularly the threat of violence towards CHWs due to village government elections. Despite CHWs reporting that both the financial and non-financial incentives were acceptable, programme administrators questioned the sustainability of the non-financial incentive and reported CHWs were ambivalent towards them. CHW service delivery outcomes increased 17% for CHWs eligible for the non-financial incentive and 21% for CHWs eligible for the financial incentive. There was a statistically significant increase (p < 0.0001) in motivation scores for the performance domain in both villages. Conclusion: It was feasible to deliver both a performance-based financial and non-financial incentive to CHWs in Malang District, Indonesia, and both incentive types were acceptable to CHWs and programme administrators. Evidence of preliminary effectiveness also suggests that both the financial and non-financial incentives were associated with improved motivation and service delivery outcomes. These findings will inform the next phase of incentive design, in which incentive feasibility and preliminary effectiveness will need to be considered alongside their longer-term sustainability within the health system. © 2021, The Author(s). Community health workers; Incentives; Indonesia; Motivation; Performance


Pilot and Feasibility Studies

Publisher: BioMed Central Ltd

Volume 7, Issue 1, Art No 132, Page – , Page Count

Journal Link:

doi: 10.1186/s40814-021-00871-7

Issn: 20555784

Type: All Open Access, Gold, Green


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