Job satisfaction, work stress, and turnover intentions among rural health workers: a cross-sectional study in 11 western provinces of China

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Background: Health workforce turnover remains a global concern, particularly in rural and remote areas. Western rural areas are the least developed in China, where it faces the serious challenge on the rural health worker (RHW) management. This study aimed to investigate job satisfaction, work stress, and turnover intentions of RHWs, and to explore prominent factors associated with turnover intentions of RHWs in rural western China. Methods: From June to September 2013, based on a three-stage random sampling method, a cross-sectional survey was conducted among RHWs in 11 western provinces in China. A brief, structured questionnaire filled in by RHWs was used for data collection. A total of 5046 RHWs participated in the study. The response rate was approximately 93.1%. Exploratory factor analyses, Pearson’s chi-squared tests, one-way ANOVA, binary logistic regression analyses, and mediating effect tests were performed for data analyses. Results: Approximately 29.1% of the 5046 RHWs indicated turnover intentions. Most of the RHWs disclosed low educational levels, income levels, and professional technical titles. The RHWs expressed slight job satisfaction (mean 3.20) and moderate work stress (mean 3.22). Age, income, medical institution, and job satisfaction (i.e., organizational management, reward, and occupation satisfaction) were significant predictors of the RHWs’ turnover intentions. The RHWs, who were younger (less than 41 years), receiving an income of $326.8-$490.1 per month, working in township hospitals, and having low job satisfaction, were more likely to have turnover intentions. Work stress had an indirect and positive effect on RHWs’ turnover intentions. Job satisfaction weakened the positive effect of work stress on turnover intentions of RHWs by playing a total mediating role. Reward satisfaction was the strongest mediator. Conclusions: The turnover intentions of RHWs in western China are significantly associated with job satisfaction, work stress, age, income, and medical institution. Appropriate strategies should be implemented to improve RHWs’ job satisfaction and reduce their work stress. Meanwhile, providing more attractive wages and non-monetary support, improving working conditions, etc. could be effective to reduction in RHWs’ turnover intentions.




Liu, J., Zhu, B., Wu, J., & Mao, Y. (2019). Job satisfaction, work stress, and turnover intentions among rural health workers: a cross-sectional study in 11 western provinces of China. BMC Family Practice, 20(1).

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