Systematic review of effective retention incentives for health workers in rural and remote areas: towards evidence-based policy

Buykx, Penny, Humphreys, John, Wakerman, John, and Pashen, Dennis (2010) Systematic review of effective retention incentives for health workers in rural and remote areas: towards evidence-based policy. Australian Journal of Rural Health, 18 (3). pp. 102-109.

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Background: Poor retention of health workers is a significant problem in rural and remote areas, with negative consequences for both health services and patient care.

Objective: This review aimed to synthesise the available evidence regarding the effectiveness of retention strategies for health workers in rural and remote areas, with a focus on those studies relevant to Australia.

Design: A systematic review method was adopted. Six program evaluation articles, eight review articles and one grey literature report were identified that met study inclusion/exclusion criteria.

Results: While a wide range of retention strategies have been introduced in various settings to reduce unnecessary staff turnover and increase length of stay, few have been rigorously evaluated. Little evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of any specific strategy is currently available, with the possible exception of health worker obligation. Multiple factors influence length of employment, indicating that a flexible, multifaceted response to improving workforce retention is required.

Conclusions: This paper proposes a comprehensive rural and remote health workforce retention framework to address factors known to contribute to avoidable turnover. The six components of the framework relate to staffing, infrastructure, remuneration, workplace organisation, professional environment, and social, family and community support. In order to ensure their effectiveness, retention strategies should be rigorously evaluated using appropriate pre- and post-intervention comparisons.

Item ID: 17338
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1440-1584
Keywords: health policy; recruitment and retention; rural and remote service; workforce
Date Deposited: 29 May 2011 23:23
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1199 Other Medical and Health Sciences > 119999 Medical and Health Sciences not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9299 Other Health > 929999 Health not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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