When staff is underpaid: Dealing with the individual coping strategies of health personnel

Wim Van Lerberghe, Claudia Conceição, Wim Van Damme, Paulo Ferrinho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Citations (Scopus)


Health sector workers respond to inadequate salaries and working conditions by developing various individual "coping strategies" - some, but not all, of which are of a predatory nature. The paper reviews what is known about these practices and their potential consequences (competition for time, brain drain and conflicts of interest). By and large, governments have rarely been proactive in dealing with such problems, mainly because of their reluctance to address the issue openly. The effectiveness of many of these piecemeal reactions,' particularly attempts to prohibit personnel from developing individual coping strategies, has been disappointing. The paper argues that a more proactive approach is required. Governments will need to recognize the dimension of the phenomenon and systematically assess the consequences of policy initiatives on the situation and behaviour of the individuals that make up their workforce.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)581-584
Number of pages4
JournalBulletin of the World Health Organization
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Career mobility
  • Emigration and immigration
  • Employee incentive plans
  • Ethics
  • Health personnel/economics
  • Job satisfaction
  • Motivation
  • Public sector
  • Salaries and fringe benefits
  • Socioeconomic factors


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