Solving inequities in provider distribution: loan repayment
ABSTRACT The distribution of primary health care professionals in England and Wales is inequitable, with relatively lower concentrations of professionals in deprived areas. The objective of the present study was to determine whether graduate health professionals would be willing to work in under-served areas in return for educational loan repayment. The study group consisted of a convenience sample of 50 newly qualified and trainee general practitioners, and 50 newly qualified community nurses and health visitors in mid- and west Wales. At interview, the subjects were presented with descriptions of general practices and asked to indicate their preferred practice. Practice descriptions varied systematically in terms of location (i.e. urban, suburban and rural), population deprivation (i.e. deprived or mixed affluent/deprived) and availability of loan repayment (i.e. none or loans paid off over a period of between one and 4 years). The main outcome was the probability that a practice with loan repayment was chosen. Compared with a suburban practice, a one-year loan repayment option made the rural and urban deprived practices 1.6 times and 1.2 times more likely to be chosen, respectively. Nurses were generally more willing than doctors to work in a deprived area in return for loan repayment. The findings suggest that loan repayment may offset health professionals' aversion to working in deprived areas. Such a scheme needs to be piloted to see whether it does offer value for money in recruiting health professionals to under-served areas.
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ABSTRACT: In many geographic regions, both in developing and in developed countries, the number of health workers is insufficient to achieve population health goals. Financial incentives for return of service are intended to alleviate health worker shortages: A (future) health worker enters into a contract to work for a number of years in an underserved area in exchange for a financial pay-off. We carried out systematic literature searches of PubMed, the Excerpta Medica database, the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, and the National Health Services Economic Evaluation Database for studies evaluating outcomes of financial-incentive programs published up to February 2009. To identify articles for review, we combined three search themes (health workers or students, underserved areas, and financial incentives). In the initial search, we identified 10,495 unique articles, 10,302 of which were excluded based on their titles or abstracts. We conducted full-text reviews of the remaining 193 articles and of 26 additional articles identified in reference lists or by colleagues. Forty-three articles were included in the final review. We extracted from these articles information on the financial-incentive programs (name, location, period of operation, objectives, target groups, definition of underserved area, financial incentives and obligation) and information on the individual studies (authors, publication dates, types of study outcomes, study design, sample criteria and sample size, data sources, outcome measures and study findings, conclusions, and methodological limitations). We reviewed program results (descriptions of recruitment, retention, and participant satisfaction), program effects (effectiveness in influencing health workers to provide care, to remain, and to be satisfied with work and personal life in underserved areas), and program impacts (effectiveness in influencing health systems and health outcomes). Of the 43 reviewed studies 34 investigated financial-incentive programs in the US. The remaining studies evaluated programs in Japan (five studies), Canada (two), New Zealand (one) and South Africa (one). The programs started between 1930 and 1998. We identified five different types of programs (service-requiring scholarships, educational loans with service requirements, service-option educational loans, loan repayment programs, and direct financial incentives). Financial incentives to serve for one year in an underserved area ranged from year-2000 United States dollars 1,358 to 28,470. All reviewed studies were observational. The random-effects estimate of the pooled proportion of all eligible program participants who had either fulfilled their obligation or were fulfilling it at the time of the study was 71% (95% confidence interval 60-80%). Seven studies compared retention in the same (underserved) area between program participants and non-participants. Six studies found that participants were less likely than non-participants to remain in the same area (five studies reported the difference to be statistically significant, while one study did not report a significance level); one study did not find a significant difference in retention in the same area. Thirteen studies compared provision of care or retention in any underserved area between participants and non-participants. Eleven studies found that participants were more likely to (continue to) practice in any underserved area (nine studies reported the difference to be statistically significant, while two studies did not provide the results of a significance test); two studies found that program participants were significantly less likely than non-participants to remain in any underserved area. Seven studies investigated the satisfaction of participants with their work and personal lives in underserved areas. Financial-incentive programs for return of service are one of the few health policy interventions intended to improve the distribution of human resources for health on which substantial evidence exists. However, the majority of studies are from the US, and only one study reports findings from a developing country, limiting generalizability. The existing studies show that financial-incentive programs have placed substantial numbers of health workers in underserved areas and that program participants are more likely than non-participants to work in underserved areas in the long run, even though they are less likely to remain at the site of original placement. As none of the existing studies can fully rule out that the observed differences between participants and non-participants are due to selection effects, the evidence to date does not allow the inference that the programs have caused increases in the supply of health workers to underserved areas.BMC Health Services Research 06/2009; 9:86. DOI:10.1186/1472-6963-9-86 · 1.66 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The geographical distribution of general practitioners (GPs) is a persistent policy concern within the National Health Service. Maldistribution across family health service authorities in England and Wales fell between 1974 and the mid-1980s but then remained, at best, constant until the mid-1990s. To estimate levels of maldistribution over the period 1994-2003 and to examine the long-term trend in maldistribution from 1974-2003. Annual snapshots from the GP census. One hundred 2001 'frozen' health authorities in England and Wales for 1994-2003 and 98 family health service authorities for 1974-1995. Ratios of GPs to raw and need-adjusted populations were calculated for each health authority for each year using four methods of need adjustment: age-related capitation payments, national age- and sex-specific consultation rates, national age- and sex-specific limiting long-term illness rates, and health authority-specific mortality. Three summary measures of maldistribution across health authorities in the GP to population ratio--the decile ratio, the Gini coefficient, and the Atkinson index--were calculated for each year. Maldistribution of GPs as measured by the Gini coefficient and Atkinson index increased from the mid-1980s to 2003, but the decile ratio showed little change over the entire 1974-2003 period. Unrestricted GP principals and equivalents were more equitably distributed than other types of GP. The 20% increase in the number of unrestricted GPs between 1985 and 2003 did not lead to a more equal distribution.British Journal of General Practice 01/2005; 54(509):894-8. · 2.36 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: OBJECTIVES: To identify factors that influence the initial plan and final decision to choose a rural area as first employment location in final-year nursing students or newly graduated nurses. DESIGN: We conducted a mixed-methods review of the literature, including both published and gray literature, using established criteria. Two reviewers performed data extraction of relevant information independently. DATA SOURCES: We retrieved empirical studies from the following databases: PubMED, Embase, CINAHL (EBSCO), Web of Science (SCI and SSCI), The Cochrane Library, Business Source Premier (EBSCO), ERIC, Proquest and PsychInfo. We also searched for empirical studies in the technical and gray literature and reviewed journals related to rural health. Additionally, we conducted searches in websites such as the Center for Health Workforce Planning and Analysis, as well as Google and Google Scholar search engines. RESULTS: Of the 523 studies thus screened, 15 were included for data extraction. We identified more than 40 factors associated with initial plans and final decision to settle in a rural area among nursing graduates. CONCLUSIONS: Only limited literature is currently available on the factors associated with the intention of nursing students or newly graduated nurses of practicing in rural areas and on the relationship between intention and effective behavior. This review highlights the needs for further research in this field.International journal of nursing studies 09/2012; DOI:10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2012.09.005 · 2.25 Impact Factor