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Differences in preferences for rural job postings between nursing students and practicing nurses: evidence from a discrete choice experiment in Lao People’s Democratic Republic

Peter C Rockers1*, Wanda Jaskiewicz2, Margaret E Kruk3, Outavong Phathammavong4, Phouthone Vangkonevilay5, Chanthakhath Paphassarang5, Inpong Thong Phachanh5, Laura Wurts2 and Kate Tulenko2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Global Health and Population, Harvard School of Public Health, 677 Huntington Ave, Boston, MA 02115, USA

2 CapacityPlus, IntraHealth International Inc., Washington, DC, USA

3 Department of Health Policy and Management, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA

4 World Health Organization, Vientiane, Lao People’s Democratic Republic

5 Lao People’s Democratic Republic Ministry of Health, Vientiane, Lao People’s Democratic Republic

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Human Resources for Health 2013, 11:22  doi:10.1186/1478-4491-11-22

Published: 24 May 2013



A discrete choice experiment was conducted to investigate preferences for job characteristics among nursing students and practicing nurses to determine how these groups vary in their respective preferences and to understand whether differing policies may be appropriate for each group.


Participating students and workers were administered a discrete choice experiment that elicited preferences for attributes of potential job postings. Job attributes included salary, duration of service until promotion to permanent staff, duration of service until qualified for further study and scholarship, housing provision, transportation provision, and performance-based financial rewards. Mixed logit models were fit to the data to estimate stated preferences and willingness to pay for attributes. Finally, an interaction model was fit to formally investigate differences in preferences between nursing students and practicing nurses.


Data were collected from 256 nursing students and 249 practicing nurses. For both groups, choice of job posting was strongly influenced by salary and direct promotion to permanent staff. As compared to nursing students, practicing nurses had significantly lower preference for housing allowance and housing provision as well as lower preference for provision of transportation for work and personal use.


In the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, nursing students and practicing nurses demonstrated important differences in their respective preferences for rural job posting attributes. This finding suggests that it may be important to differentiate between recruitment and retention policies when addressing human resources for health challenges in developing countries, such as Laos.

Nursing; Human resources for health; Attraction; Retention; Discrete choice experiment; Laos People’s Democratic Republic