Project Route HWF

Duration: 2021-2024

A Roadmap OUT of mEdical deserts into supportive Health Workforce initiatives and policies


Nivel-logo-RouteHWF-150px PijnRationale

Despite existing research on health workforce planning and health disparities, the concept of medical deserts is ambiguous and lacks specificity. Although EU countries and regions have developed policy responses and approaches to address medical deserts, there is insufficient evidence on what policy interventions are most effective at reducing medical deserts. ROUTE HWF aims to help EU Member States to improve timely access to high-quality healthcare across all EU regions, thus reducing disparities in population health. 

Doel Objectives

The project’s specific objectives are:

  • to provide a definition and taxonomy of the concept of medical deserts
  • to develop guidelines on how EU Member States can monitor and measure medical deserts at national and subnational levels
  • to analyse the factors that drive medical “desertification” and assess health workforce policy responses and approaches to medical deserts
  • to provide an optimal mix of policy responses and approaches to medical deserts depending on the type of medical desert
  • to develop a roadmap to help EU Member States in designing and implementing their own health workforce policies that address medical deserts

Nivel ZorgregistratiesParticipants

The team is a consortium of members of five EU countries:

  • The Netherlands
  • Finland
  • Spain
  • Poland
  • Croatia

Producten en dienstenMethods

We use the folling methods in delivering the output:

  • a literature review and database search of available material on definitions, characteristics, mapping and influencing factors of medical deserts along with approaches to mitigate or eliminate them
  • a survey across 33 European countries on characteristics, measurement and influencing factors of medical deserts along with policy responses
  • five national stakeholder workshops to discuss and evaluate the taxonomy and guidelines to measure and monitor medical deserts, feeding into the roadmap
  • six in-depth case studies to further assess the applicability and usability of the taxonomy and guidelines and refine the roadmap
  • a final European expert workshop to discuss the optimal mix of policy responses and approaches to medical deserts


The deliverables and products of the projects will include reports, (web)publications, articles, factsheets and webtools.

Panels met patiënten, cliënten en burgersNivel project team

Participating Nivel researchers are:


The research project is funded by CHAFEA (European Commission).

Meer wetenWant to know more? Contact us

For more information on this project, please feel free to get in touch with the Nivel expert(s) involved. You will find them on the right, together with the (future) Nivel deliverables (publications) and other relevant content.


Batenburg, R. Project Route HWF. From: [Last update 28-April-2022; consulted on 19-May-2022]. URL: