Many European countries are faced with health workforce shortages and the need to develop effective recruitment and retention (R&R) strategies. Yet comparative studies on R&R in Europe are scarce. This paper provides an overview of the measures in place to improve the R&R of health professionals across Europe and offers further insight into the evidence base for R&R; the interaction between policy and organisational levels in driving R&R outcomes; the facilitators and barriers throughout these process; and good practices in the R&R of health professionals across Europe. The study adopted a multi-method approach combining an extensive literature review and multiple-case study research. 64 publications were included in the review and 34 R&R interventions from 20 European countries were included in the multiple-case study. We found a consistent lack of evidence about the effectiveness of R&R interventions. Most interventions are not explicitly part of a coherent package of measures but they tend to involve multiple actors from policy and organisational levels, sometimes in complex configurations. A list of good practices for R&R interventions was identified, including context-sensitivity when implementing and transferring interventions to different organisations and countries. While single R&R interventions on their own have little impact, bundles of interventions are more effective. Interventions backed by political and executive commitment benefit from a strong support base and involvement of relevant stakeholders.
Keywords: Europe; Health human resources; Health professionals; Literature review; Multiple case study; Recruitment and retention.
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