Springer Search: "human resources for health"
Shortage of Doctors, Shortage of Data: A Review of the Global Surgery, Obstetrics, and Anesthesia Workforce Literature
The global surgery workforce is in crisis in many low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The shortage of surgery, obstetrics, and anesthesia providers is an important cause of the unmet need for surgical care in LMICs. The goal of this paper is to summarize the available literature about surgical physicians in LMICs and to describe ongoing initiatives to supplement the existing surgical workforce data.Methods
We performed a systematic search and literature review of the English-language literature regarding the number of surgeons, obstetrician–gynecologists, and anesthesiologists practicing in LMICs.Results
Literature describing the number of surgeons, obstetricians, and anesthesiologists practicing in LMICs represents a small minority of LMICs, and indicates consistently low levels of surgical physicians. Our literature search yielded comprehensive data for only six countries. No national data were found for 23 of the 57 countries considered by the World Health Organization (WHO) to be in health workforce ‘crisis.’ Across LMICs, general surgeon density ranged from 0.13 to 1.57 per 100,000 population, obstetrician density ranged from 0.042 to 12.5 per 100,000, and anesthesiologist density ranged from 0 to 4.9 per 100,000. Total anesthesiologist, obstetrician, and surgeon density was significantly correlated with gross domestic product (GDP) per capita (r 2 = 0.097, p = 0.0002).Conclusion
The global surgery workforce is in crisis, yet is poorly characterized by the current English-language literature. There is a critical need for systematically collected, national-level data regarding surgery providers in LMICs to guide improvements in surgery access and care. The Harvard Global Surgery Workforce Initiative and the WHO global surgical workforce database are working to address this need by surveying Ministries of Health and surgical professional organizations around the world.
The editors of Human Resources for Health would like to thank all our reviewers who have contributed to the journal in Volume 11 (2013).
Kenya’s human resources for health shortage is well documented, yet in line with the new constitution, responsibility for health service delivery will be devolved to 47 new county administrations. This work describes the public sector nursing workforce likely to be inherited by the counties, and examines the relationships between nursing workforce density and key indicators.Methods
National nursing deployment data linked to nursing supply data were used and analyzed using statistical and geographical analysis software. Data on nurses deployed in national referral hospitals and on nurses deployed in non-public sector facilities were excluded from main analyses. The densities and characteristics of the public sector nurses across the counties were obtained and examined against an index of county remoteness, and the nursing densities were correlated with five key indicators.Results
Of the 16,371 nurses in the public non-tertiary sector, 76% are women and 53% are registered nurses, with 35% of the nurses aged 40 to 49 years. The nursing densities across counties range from 1.2 to 0.08 per 1,000 population. There are statistically significant associations of the nursing densities with a measure of health spending per capita (P value = 0.0028) and immunization rates (P value = 0.0018). A higher county remoteness index is associated with explaining lower female to male ratio of public sector nurses across counties (P value <0.0001).Conclusions
An overall shortage of nurses (range of 1.2 to 0.08 per 1,000) in the public sector countrywide is complicated by mal-distribution and varying workforce characteristics (for example, age profile) across counties. All stakeholders should support improvements in human resources information systems and help address personnel shortages and mal-distribution if equitable, quality health-care delivery in the counties is to be achieved.
The density of the nursing and maternal child health nursing workforce in Mozambique (0.32/1000) is well below the WHO minimum standard of 1 nurse per 1000. Two levels of education were being offered for both nurses and maternal child health nurses, in programmes ranging from 18 to 30 months in length. The health care workforce in Mozambique also includes Medical Technicians and Medical Agents, who are also educated at either basic or mid-level. The Ministry of Health determined the need to document the tasks that each of the six cadres was performing within various health facilities to identify gaps, and duplications, in order to identify strategies for streamlining workforce production, while retaining highest educational and competency standards. The methodology of task analysis (TA) was used to achieve this objective. This article provides information about the TA methodology, and selected outcomes of the very broad study.Methods
A cross-sectional descriptive task analysis survey was conducted over a 15 month period (2008–2009). A stratified sample of 1295 individuals was recruited from every type of health facility in all of Mozambique’s 10 provinces and in Maputo City. Respondents indicated how frequently they performed any of 233 patient care tasks. Data analysis focused on identifying areas where identical tasks were performed by the various cadres. Analyses addressed frequency of performance, grouped by level of educational preparation, within various types of health facilities.Results
Task sharing ranged from 74% to 88% between basic and general nurse cadres and from 54% to 88% between maternal and child health nurse cadres, within various health facility types. Conversely, there was distinction between scope of practice for nursing and maternal/child health nursing cadres.Conclusion
The educational pathways to general nursing and maternal/child health nursing careers were consolidated into one 24 month programme for each career. The scopes of practice were affirmed based on task analysis survey data.
Scaling up family medicine training in Gezira, Sudan – a 2-year in-service master programme using modern information and communication technology: a survey study
In 2010 the Gezira Family Medicine Project (GFMP) was initiated in Gezira state, Sudan, designed as an in-service training model. The project is a collaboration project between the University of Gezira, which aims to provide a 2-year master’s programme in family medicine for practicing doctors, and the Ministry of Health, which facilitates service provision and funds the training programme. This paper presents the programme, the teaching environment, and the first batch of candidates enrolled.Methods
In this study a self-administered questionnaire was used to collect baseline data at the start of the project from doctors who joined the programme. A checklist was also used to assess the health centres where they work. A total of 188 out of 207 doctors responded (91%), while data were gathered from all 158 health centres (100%) staffed by the programme candidates.Results
The Gezira model of in-service family medicine training has succeeded in recruiting 207 candidates in its first batch, providing health services in 158 centres, of which 84 had never been served by a doctor before. The curriculum is community oriented. The mean age of doctors was 32.5 years, 57% were males, and 32% were graduates from the University of Gezira. Respondents stated high confidence in practicing some skills such as asthma management and post-abortion uterine evacuation. They were least confident in other skills such as managing depression or inserting an intrauterine device. The majority of health centres was poorly equipped for management of noncommunicable diseases, as only 10% had an electrocardiography machine (ECG), 5% had spirometer, and 1% had a defibrillator.Conclusions
The Gezira model has responded to local health system needs. Use of modern information and communication technology is used to facilitate both health service provision and training. The GFMP represents an example of a large-volume scaling-up programme of family medicine in Africa.
The number of Master of Public Health (MPH) programmes in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) is increasing, but questions have been raised regarding the relevance of their outcomes and impacts on context. Although processes for validating public health competencies have taken place in recent years in many high-income countries, validation in LMICs is needed. Furthermore, impact variables of MPH programmes in the workplace and in society have not been developed.Method
A set of public health competencies and impact variables in the workplace and in society was designed using the competencies and learning objectives of six participating institutions offering MPH programmes in or for LMICs, and the set of competencies of the Council on Linkages Between Academia and Public Health Practice as a reference. The resulting competencies and impact variables differ from those of the Council on Linkages in scope and emphasis on social determinants of health, context specificity and intersectoral competencies. A modified Delphi method was used in this study to validate the public health competencies and impact variables; experts and MPH alumni from China, Vietnam, South Africa, Sudan, Mexico and the Netherlands reviewed them and made recommendations.Results
The competencies and variables were validated across two Delphi rounds, first with public health experts (N = 31) from the six countries, then with MPH alumni (N = 30). After the first expert round, competencies and impact variables were refined based on the quantitative results and qualitative comments. Both rounds showed high consensus, more so for the competencies than the impact variables. The response rate was 100%.Conclusion
This is the first time that public health competencies have been validated in LMICs across continents. It is also the first time that impact variables of MPH programmes have been proposed and validated in LMICs across continents. The high degree of consensus between experts and alumni suggests that these public health competencies and impact variables can be used to design and evaluate MPH programmes, as well as for individual and team assessment and continuous professional development in LMICs.
When incentives work too well: locally implemented pay for performance (P4P) and adverse sanctions towards home birth in Tanzania - a qualitative study
Despite limited evidence of its effectiveness, performance-based payments (P4P) are seen by leading policymakers as a potential solution to the slow progress in reaching Millennium Development Goal 5: improved maternal health. This paper offers insights into two of the aspects that are lacking in the current literature on P4P, namely what strategies health workers employ to reach set targets, and how the intervention plays out when implemented by local government as part of a national programme that does not receive donor funding.Methods
A total of 28 in-depth interviews (IDIs) with 25 individuals were conducted in Mvomero district over a period of 15 months in 2010 and 2011, both before and after P4P payments. Seven facilities, including six dispensaries and one health centre, were covered. Informants included 17 nurses, three clinical officers, two medical attendants, one lab technician and two district health administrators.Results
Health workers reported a number of strategies to increase the number of deliveries at their facility, including health education and cooperation with traditional health providers. The staff at all facilities also reported that they had told the women that they would be sanctioned if they gave birth at home, such as being fined or denied clinical cards and/or vaccinations for their babies. There is a great uncertainty in relation to the potential health impacts of the behavioural changes that have come with P4P, as the reported strategies may increase the numbers, but not necessarily the quality. Contrary to the design of the P4P programme, payments were not based on performance. We argue that this was due in part to a lack of resources within the District Administration, and in part as a result of egalitarian fairness principles.Conclusions
Our results suggest that particular attention should be paid to adverse effects when using external rewards for improved health outcomes, and secondly, that P4P may take on a different form when implemented by local implementers without the assistance of professional P4P specialists.
African leaders’ views on critical human resource issues for the implementation of family medicine in Africa
The World Health Organisation has advocated for comprehensive primary care teams, which include family physicians. However, despite (or because of) severe doctor shortages in Africa, there is insufficient clarity on the role of the family physician in the primary health care team. Instead there is a trend towards task shifting without thought for teamwork, which runs the risk of dangerous oversimplification. It is not clear how African leaders understand the challenges of implementing family medicine, especially in human resource terms. This study, therefore, sought to explore the views of academic and government leaders on critical human resource issues for implementation of family medicine in Africa.Method
In this qualitative study, key academic and government leaders were purposively selected from sixteen African countries. In-depth interviews were conducted using an interview guide. All interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed and thematically analysed.Results
There were 27 interviews conducted with 16 government and 11 academic leaders in nine Sub-Saharan African countries: Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa and Uganda. Respondents spoke about: educating doctors in family medicine suited to Africa, including procedural skills and holistic care, to address the difficulty of recruiting and retaining doctors in rural and underserved areas; planning for primary health care teams, including family physicians; new supervisory models in primary health care; and general human resource management issues.Conclusions
Important milestones in African health care fail to specifically address the human resource issues of integrated primary health care teamwork that includes family physicians. Leaders interviewed in this study, however, proposed organising the district health system with a strong embrace of family medicine in Africa, especially with regard to providing clinical leadership in team-based primary health care. Whilst these leaders focussed positively on entry and workforce issues, in terms of the 2006 World Health Report on human resources for health, they did not substantially address retention of family physicians. Family physicians need to respond to the challenge by respondents to articulate human resource policies appropriate to Africa, including the organisational development of the primary health care team with more sophisticated skills and teamwork.
Doctoral training in Uganda: evaluation of mentoring best practices at Makerere university college of health sciences
Good mentoring is a key variable for determining success in completing a doctoral program. We identified prevailing mentoring practices among doctoral students and their mentors, identified common challenges facing doctoral training, and proposed some solutions to enhance the quality of the doctoral training experience for both candidates and mentors at Makerere University College of Health Sciences (MakCHS).Methods
This cross-sectional qualitative evaluation was part of the monitoring and evaluation program for doctoral training. All doctoral students and their mentors were invited for a half-day workshop through the MakCHS mailing list. Prevailing doctoral supervision and mentoring guidelines were summarised in a one-hour presentation. Participants were split into two homogenous students’ (mentees’) and mentors’ groups to discuss specific issues using a focus group discussion (FGD) guide, that highlighted four main themes in regard to the doctoral training experience; what was going well, what was not going well, proposed solutions to current challenges and perceived high priority areas for improvement. The two groups came together again and the note-takers from each group presented their data and discussions were recorded by a note-taker.Results
Twelve out of 36 invited mentors (33%) and 22 out of 40 invited mentees (55%) attended the workshop. Mentors and mentees noted increasing numbers of doctoral students and mentors, which provided opportunities for peer mentorship. Delays in procurement and research regulatory processes subsequently delayed students’ projects. Similarly, mentees mentioned challenges of limited; 1) infrastructure and mentors to support basic science research projects, 2) physical office space for doctoral students and their mentors, 3) skills in budgeting and finance management and 4) communication skills including conflict resolution. As solutions, the team proposed skills’ training, induction courses for doctoral students-mentor teams, and a Frequently Asked Questions’ document, to better inform mentors’, mentees’ expectations and experiences.Conclusion
Systemic and infrastructural limitations affect the quality of the doctoral training experience at MaKCHS. Clinical and biomedical research infrastructure, in addition to training in research regulatory processes, procurement and finance management, communication skills and information technology, were highlighted as high priority areas for strategic interventions to improve mentoring within doctoral training of clinician scientists.
Nurse employment contracts in Chinese hospitals: impact of inequitable benefit structures on nurse and patient satisfaction
Ongoing economic and health system reforms in China have transformed nurse employment in Chinese hospitals. Employment of ‘bianzhi’ nurses, a type of position with state-guaranteed lifetime employment that has been customary since 1949, is decreasing while there is an increase in the contract-based nurse employment with limited job security and reduced benefits. The consequences of inequities between the two types of nurses in terms of wages and job-related benefits are unknown. This study examined current rates of contract-based nurse employment and the effects of the new nurse contract employment strategy on nurse and patient outcomes in Chinese hospitals.Methods
This cross-sectional study used geographically representative survey data collected from 2008 to 2010 from 181 hospitals in six provinces, two municipalities, and one autonomous region in China. Logistic regression models were used to estimate the association between contract-based nurse utilization, dissatisfaction among contract-based nurses, nurse intentions to leave their positions, and patient satisfaction, controlling for nurse, patient, and hospital characteristics.Principal Results
Hospital-level utilization of contract-based nurses varies greatly from 0 to 91%, with an average of 51%. Contract-based nurses were significantly more dissatisfied with their remuneration and benefits than ‘bianzhi’ nurses who have more job security (P <0.01). Contract-based nurses who were dissatisfied with their salary and benefits were more likely to intend to leave their current positions (P <0.01). Hospitals with high levels of dissatisfaction with salary and benefits among contract-based nurses were rated lower and less likely to be recommended by patients (P < 0.05).Conclusions
Our results suggest a high utilization of contract-based nurses in Chinese hospitals, and that the inequities in benefits between contract-based nurses and ‘bianzhi’ nurses may adversely affect both nurse and patient satisfaction in hospitals. Our study provides empirical support for the ‘equal pay for equal work’ policy emphasized by the China Ministry of Health’s recent regulations, and calls for efforts in Chinese hospitals to eliminate the disparities between ‘bianzhi’ and contract-based nurses.
Implementation challenges of maternal health care in Ghana: the case of health care providers in the Tamale Metropolis
Achieving the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of improving maternal health has become a focus in recent times for the majority of countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Ghana’s maternal mortality is still high indicating that there are challenges in the provision of quality maternal health care at the facility level. This study examined the implementation challenges of maternal health care services in the Tamale Metropolis of Ghana.Methods
Purposive sampling was used to select study participants and qualitative strategies, including in-depth interviews, focus group discussions and review of documents employed for data collection. The study participants included midwives (24) and health managers (4) at the facility level.Results
The study revealed inadequate in-service training, limited knowledge of health policies by midwives, increased workload, risks of infection, low motivation, inadequate labour wards, problems with transportation, and difficulties in following the procurement act, among others as some of the challenges confronting the successful implementation of the MDGs targeting maternal and child health in the Tamale Metropolis.Conclusions
Implementation of maternal health interventions should take into consideration the environment or the context under which the interventions are implemented by health care providers to ensure they are successful. The study recommends involving midwives in the health policy development process to secure their support and commitment towards successful implementation of maternal health interventions.
Provide an up-to-date national picture of the medical, midwifery and nursing workforce distribution in Australia with a focus on overseas immigration and on production sustainability challenges.Methods
Using 2006 and 2011 Australian census data, analysis was conducted on medical practitioners (doctors) and on midwifery and nursing professionals.Results
Of the 70,231 medical practitioners in Australia in 2011, 32,919 (47.3%) were Australian-born, with the next largest groups bring born in South Asia and Southeast Asia. In 2006, 51.9% of medical practitioners were born in Australia. Of the 239,924 midwifery and nursing professionals in Australia, 127,911 (66.8%) were born in Australia, with the next largest groups being born in the United Kingdom and Ireland and in Southeast Asia. In 2006, 69.8% of midwifery and nursing professionals were born in Australia. Western Australia has the highest percentage of foreign-born health workers. There is a higher percentage of Australia-born health workers in rural areas than in urban areas (82% of midwifery and nursing professional in rural areas are Australian-born versus 59% in urban areas). Of the 15,168 additional medical practitioners in Australia between the 2006 and 2011 censuses, 10,452 (68.9%) were foreign-born, including large increases from such countries as India, Nepal, Philippines, and Zimbabwe. We estimate that Australia has saved US$1.7 billion in medical education costs through the arrival of foreign-born medical practitioners over the past five years.Conclusions
The Australian health system is increasingly reliant on foreign-born health workers. This raises questions of medical education sustainability in Australia and on Australia’s recruitment from countries facing critical shortages of health workers.
Neonatal health in Nepal: analysis of absolute and relative inequalities and impact of current efforts to reduce neonatal mortality
Nepal has made substantial progress in reducing under-five mortality and is on track to achieve Millennium Development Goal 4, but advances in neonatal health are less encouraging. The objectives of this study were to assess relative and absolute inequalities in neonatal mortality over time, and to review experience with major programs to promote neonatal health.Methods
Using four nationally representative surveys conducted in 1996, 2001, 2006 and 2011, we calculated neonatal mortality rates for Nepal and for population groups based on child sex, geographical and socio-economic variables using a true cohort log probability approach. Inequalities based on different variables and years were assessed using rate differences (rd) and rate ratios (rr); time trends in neonatal mortality were measured using the annual rate of reduction. Through literature searches and expert consultation, information on Nepalese policies and programs implemented since 1990 and directly or indirectly attempting to reduce neonatal mortality was compiled. Data on timeline, coverage and effectiveness were extracted for major programs.Results
The annual rate of reduction for neonatal mortality between 1996 and 2011 (2.8 percent per annum) greatly lags behind the achievements in under-five and infant mortality, and varies across population groups. For the year 2011, stark absolute and relative inequalities in neonatal mortality exist in relation to wealth status (rd = 21.4, rr = 2.2); these are less pronounced for other measures of socio-economic status, child sex and urban–rural residence, ecological and development region. Among many efforts to promote child and maternal health, three established programs and two pilot programs emerged as particularly relevant to reducing neonatal mortality. While these were designed based on national and international evidence, information about coverage of different population groups and effectiveness is limited.Conclusion
Neonatal mortality varies greatly by socio-demographic variables. This study clearly shows that much remains to be achieved in terms of reducing neonatal mortality across different socio-economic, ethnic and geographical population groups in Nepal. In moving forward it will be important to scale up programs of proven effectiveness, conduct in-depth evaluation of promising new approaches, target unreached and hard-to-reach populations, and maximize use of financial and personnel resources through integration across programs.
Provider perspectives on constraints in providing maternal, neonatal and child health services in the Lao People’s democratic republic: a qualitative study
To reduce its high maternal and neonatal mortality rate and meet Millennium Development Goals four and five, Lao PDR has adopted a national ‘Strategy and Planning Framework of Implementation of Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health Services’. This paper reports on implementation constraints identified in three demonstration sites.Methods
The objectives of this paper are to analyse health worker perceptions of the implementation of the strategy and constraints faced during implementation. A qualitative design was used with interviews conducted at health facilities in three demonstration provinces. Data were collected through key interviews with provincial/district hospital providers (n = 27), health centre staff (n = 8) and village health volunteers (n = 10). Data was analysed informed by Hanson et al’s health system constraint framework.Results
In each of the demonstration sites, the Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health program was generally well-understood and the different activities were being implemented. Perceived implementation constraints related mainly to a mix of supply and demand factors. Supply-side constraints related to inadequate human resources, poor remuneration, weak technical guidance, minimal supervision and limited equipment. Demand-side constraints related mainly to cost, limited access to transport, cultural practices and language. Other constraints related to broader strategic management and cross-sectoral contextual constraints. Contextual constraints included low levels of limited education, women’s position in society and poor transport and communications networks. These factors influenced the implementation process and if not addressed, may reduce the effectiveness of the policy and scale-up.Conclusion
The Lao PDR has a well-defined Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health program. Analysis of the constraints experienced by service providers in implementing the program however, is essential for scaling-up the initiative. To achieve effective implementation and scale-up a number of concurrent interventions are needed to address identified constraints. More research is needed to identify the optimal combination of interventions to improve these constraints. The broader contextual characteristics require longer-term, cross-sectoral action.
Training for health services and systems research in Sub-Saharan Africa - a case study at four East and Southern African Universities
The need to develop capacity for health services and systems research (HSSR) in low and middle income countries has been highlighted in a number of international forums. However, little is known about the level of HSSR training in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). We conducted an assessment at four major East and Southern African universities to describe: a) the numbers of HSSR PhD trainees at these institutions, b) existing HSSR curricula and mode of delivery, and c) motivating and challenging factors for PhD training, from the trainees’ experience.Methods
PhD training program managers completed a pre-designed form about trainees enrolled since 2006. A desk review of existing health curricula was also conducted to identify HSSR modules being offered; and PhD trainees completed a self-administered questionnaire on motivating and challenging factors they may have experienced during their PhD training.Results
Of the 640 PhD trainees enrolled in the health sciences since 2006, only 24 (3.8%) were in an HSSR field. None of the universities had a PhD training program focusing on HSSR. The 24 HSSR PhD trainees had trained in partnership with a university outside Africa. Top motivating factors for PhD training were: commitment of supervisors (67%), availability of scholarships (63%), and training attached to a research grant (25%). Top challenging factors were: procurement delays (44%), family commitments (38%), and poor Internet connection (35%).Conclusion
The number of HSSR PhD trainees is at the moment too small to enable a rapid accumulation of the required critical mass of locally trained HSSR professionals to drive the much needed health systems strengthening and innovations in this region. Curricula for advanced HSSR training are absent, exposing a serious training gap for HSSR in this region.
A survey of the sociodemographic and educational characteristics of oral health technicians in public primary health care teams in Minas Gerais, Brazil
To describe some sociodemographic and educational characteristics of oral health technicians (OHTs) in public primary health care teams in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil.Methods
A cross-sectional descriptive study was performed based on the telephone survey of a representative sample comprising 231 individuals. A pre-tested instrument was used for the data collection, including questions on gender, age in years, years of work as an OHT, years since graduation as an OHT, formal schooling, individual income in a month, and participation in continuing educational programmes. The descriptive statistic was developed and the formation of clusters, by the agglomerative hierarchy technique based on the furthest neighbour, was based on the age, years of work as an OHT, time since graduation as an OHT, formal schooling, individual income in a month, and participation in continuing educational programmes.Results
Most interviewees (97.1%) were female. A monthly income of USD 300.00 to 600.00 was reported by 77.5% of the sample. Having educational qualifications in excess of their role was reported by approximately 20% of the participants. The median time since graduation was six years, and half of the sample had worked for four years as an OHT. Most interviewees (67.6%) reported having participated in professional continuing educational programmes. Two different clusters were identified based on the sociodemographic and educational characteristics of the sample.Conclusions
The Brazilian OHTs in public primary health care teams in the state of Minas Gerais are mostly female who have had little time since graduation, working experience, and formal schooling sufficient for professional practice.
Implementing large-scale workforce change: learning from 55 pilot sites of allied health workforce redesign in Queensland, Australia
Increasingly, health workforces are undergoing high-level ‘re-engineering’ to help them better meet the needs of the population, workforce and service delivery. Queensland Health implemented a large scale 5-year workforce redesign program across more than 13 health-care disciplines. This study synthesized the findings from this program to identify and codify mechanisms associated with successful workforce redesign to help inform other large workforce projects.Methods
This study used Inductive Logic Reasoning (ILR), a process that uses logic models as the primary functional tool to develop theories of change, which are subsequently validated through proposition testing. Initial theories of change were developed from a systematic review of the literature and synthesized using a logic model. These theories of change were then developed into propositions and subsequently tested empirically against documentary, interview, and survey data from 55 projects in the workforce redesign program.Results
Three overarching principles were identified that optimized successful workforce redesign: (1) drivers for change need to be close to practice; (2) contexts need to be supportive both at the local levels and legislatively; and (3) mechanisms should include appropriate engagement, resources to facilitate change management, governance, and support structures. Attendance to these factors was uniformly associated with success of individual projects.Conclusions
ILR is a transparent and reproducible method for developing and testing theories of workforce change. Despite the heterogeneity of projects, professions, and approaches used, a consistent set of overarching principles underpinned success of workforce change interventions. These concepts have been operationalized into a workforce change checklist.
Globally, abundant opportunities exist for policymakers to improve the accessibility of rural and remote populations to primary health care through improving workforce retention. This paper aims to identify and quantify the most important factors associated with rural and remote Australian family physician turnover, and to demonstrate how evidence generated by survival analysis of health workforce data can inform rural workforce policy making.Methods
A secondary analysis of longitudinal data collected by the New South Wales (NSW) Rural Doctors Network for all family physicians working in rural or remote NSW between January 1st 2003 and December 31st 2012 was performed. The Prentice, Williams and Peterson statistical model for survival analysis was used to identify and quantify risk factors for rural NSW family physician turnover.Results
Multivariate modelling revealed a higher (2.65-fold) risk of family physician turnover in small, remote locations compared to that in small closely settled locations. Family physicians who graduated from countries other than Australia, United Kingdom, United States of America, New Zealand, Ireland, and Canada also had a higher (1.45-fold) risk of turnover compared to Australian trained family physicians. This was after adjusting for the effects of conditional registration. Procedural skills and public hospital admitting rights were associated with a lower risk of turnover. These risks translate to a predicted median survival of 11 years for Australian-trained family physician non-proceduralists with hospital admitting rights working in small coastal closely settled locations compared to 3 years for family physicians in remote locations.Conclusions
This study provides rigorous empirical evidence of the strong association between population size and geographical location and the retention of family physicians in rural and remote NSW. This has important policy ramifications since retention grants for rural and remote family physicians in Australia are currently based on a geographical ‘remoteness’ classification rather than population size. In addition, this study demonstrates how survival analysis assists health workforce planning, such as through generating evidence to assist in benchmarking ‘reasonable’ lengths of practice in different geographic settings that might guide service obligation requirements.