Bringing a European perspective to the health human resources debate: A scoping study

Health Policy. 2013 Apr;110(1):6-13. doi: 10.1016/j.healthpol.2012.11.002. Epub 2012 Nov 28.


Healthcare systems across the world are increasingly challenged by workforce shortages and misdistribution of skills. Yet, no comprehensive European approach to health human resources (HHR) policy exists and action remains fragmented. This scoping study seeks to contribute to the debates by providing an overview of existing HHR research, and by exploring the challenges of a European approach with a focus on workforce planning. In terms of methods, we build on a scoping review comprising literature analysis and qualitative data gathered from policy experts. In our analysis we observe an overall lack of integrated HHR approaches as major obstacle of efficient HHR planning, and find that five dimensions of integration in HHR policy are needed: system, occupational, sector, gender, and socio-cultural integration. Increasing the analytical complexity of HHR planning models does not automatically bring about more reliable and efficient planning, as the added value of these models is highly context-dependent. Yet Europe is highly diverse and we therefore argue the need for a strategic HHR perspective that is capable of bridging many different HHR policies and planning systems, and combining national and European solutions efficiently.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Education, Medical / organization & administration
  • Europe
  • Female
  • Health Planning / methods
  • Health Policy
  • Health Resources / organization & administration
  • Health Workforce* / organization & administration
  • Humans
  • Male