Too many, too few, too concentrated? A review of the pediatric subspecialty workforce literature

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2004 Dec;158(12):1158-65. doi: 10.1001/archpedi.158.12.1158.


Objectives: To summarize recent pediatric subspecialty workforce analyses and to highlight similarities and differences across studies.

Design: By using MEDLINE, we conducted a systematic search of the literature published from January 1, 1992, through December 31, 2002. We included research articles and task force reports, and abstracted author, year of publication, specialty, sample size, analytic perspective (eg, physician or academic department), inclusion of data on nonclinical activities, inclusion of an objective measure of demand, and workforce-related conclusions.

Results: We identified 41 relevant articles. Physician surveys provided data for most (n = 24) of these studies. Only 8 studies attempted to make future workforce projections; of these 8 studies, 1 explicitly accounted for nonclinical activities in its projections. An additional 16 studies presented data on involvement in nonclinical activities. While some studies suggest that additional pediatric subspecialists are not needed, these studies did not include objective assessments of demand in geographic areas where pediatric subspecialty physicians are not available. Of those studies that took a market perspective and attempted to account for demand, workforce recommendations varied considerably across specialties.

Conclusions: We know little about the distribution of the pediatric subspecialty workforce relative to the demand for their services. Given concerns about the adequacy of the pediatric subspecialty workforce, future research should assess the availability of these physicians relative to need for their services and account for nonclinical activities in workforce projections.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Education, Medical
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medicine / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pediatrics*
  • Specialization*
  • United States