Primary health Centres' performance assessment measures in developing countries: review of the empirical literature

R. Bangalore Sathyananda*, A. de Rijk, U. Manjunath, A. Krumeich, C. P. van Schayck

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal(Systematic) Review article peer-review


Background: It is universally accepted that primary healthcare is essential for achieving public health and that assessment of its performance is critical for continuous improvement. The World Health Organization's (WHO's) framework for performance assessment is a comprehensive global standard, but difficult to apply in developing countries because of financial and data constraints. This study aims to review the empirical literature on measures for Primary Health Centre (PHC) performance assessment in developing countries, and compare them for comprehensiveness with the aspects described by the WHO Framework. Methods: Research articles published in English scientific journals between January 1979 and October 2016 were reviewed systematically. The reporting quality of the article and the quality of the measures were assessed with instruments adapted for the purpose of this study. Data was categorized and described. Results: Fifteen articles were included in the study out of 4359 articles reviewed. Nine articles used quantitative methods, one article used qualitative methods exclusively and five used mixed methods. Fourteen articles had a good description of the measurement properties. None of the articles presented validity tests of the measures but eleven articles presented measures that were well established. Mostly studies included components of personnel competencies (skilled/non-skilled) and centre performance (patient satisfaction/cost/efficiency). Conclusions: In comparison to the WHO framework, the measures in the articles were limited in scope as they did not represent all service components of PHCs. Hence, PHC performance assessment should include system components along with relevant measures of personnel performance beyond knowledge of protocols. Existing measures for PHC performance assessment in developing countries need to be validated and concise measures for neglected aspects need to be developed.
Original languageEnglish
Article number627
Number of pages13
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Publication statusPublished - 9 Aug 2018


  • Primary health centres
  • Performance assessment
  • Developing countries


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