Publication date

Researching the health workforce: a framework for action.

Kuhlmann, E., Batenburg, R., Dussault, G. Researching the health workforce: a framework for action. European Journal of Public Health: 2019, 29(Suppl. 4)
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The importance of a sustainable health workforce is increasingly recognised. However, the building of a future health workforce that is responsive to diverse population needs and demographic and economic change remains challenging. There is a need to improve research and education to address these questions effectively and build capacity for public health approaches in health workforce policy. This paper introduces an agenda for health workforce research.

The research agenda has been developed through bringing together expertise and knowledge from a wide range of authors and leading organisations involved in health workforce research and policy. It takes a health system approach and focuses on Europe.

Six major objectives for health workforce policy were identified:
(1) to develop frameworks that align health systems/governance and health workforce policy/planning,
(2) to explore the effects of changing skill mixes and competencies across sectors and occupational groups,
(3) to map how education and health workforce governance can be better integrated,
(4) to analyse the impact of health workforce mobility on health systems,
(5) to optimise the use of international/EU, national and regional health workforce data and monitoring,
(6) to build capacity for policy implementation.

The research highlights critical knowledge gaps that currently hamper the opportunities of effectively responding to these challenges and advising policymakers in different health systems. Closing these knowledge gaps is therefore an important step towards future health workforce governance and policy implementation.

There is an urgent need for building health workforce research as an independent, interdisciplinary and multi-professional field. Action has to be taken to establish new training courses and Master programmes to create competences for leadership in health workforce research.