Medically underserved areas (‘medical deserts’) are still present in Europe, despite policies aiming at universal health coverage by ensuring availability and accessibility of general practitioners (GPs). While multiple strategies for GP recruitment and retention have potential to be effective, the limited evaluation on GP availability or distribution makes it difficult to provide a ‘best practice’ approach in European medical deserts. These are the findings of a systematic review by Nivel.
Educational and supportive interventions to improve GP recruitment and retention are most frequently reported in Europe in the past ten years. However, the effectiveness of these interventions on actual availability or distribution of GPs was mostly not evaluated. Available evidence on the effectiveness of financial and regulatory measures had a more pronounced effect on GP availability or distribution than educational and supportive interventions, although European generalizability of these results are challenging. View all results of the Nivel study in the publication. ‘Recruitment and retention of general practitioners in European medical deserts: a systematic review’
This systematic review provides an up-to-date overview from 2011 onwards of literature on evaluating recruitment and retention strategies of GPs covering an underserved area in an EU-27/EEA/EFTA country. In total, 25 of the 294 studies were included. The identified interventions in these studies were classified into four categories: ‘education’, ‘professional and personal support’, ‘financial incentives’ and ‘regulation’.