Who should receive recruitment and retention incentives? Improved targeting of rural doctors using medical workforce data
Article first published online: 17 JAN 2012
© 2012 The Authors. Australian Journal of Rural Health © National Rural Health Alliance Inc.
Australian Journal of Rural Health
Volume 20, Issue 1, pages 3–10, February 2012
How to Cite
Humphreys, J. S., McGrail, M. R., Joyce, C. M., Scott, A. and Kalb, G. (2012), Who should receive recruitment and retention incentives? Improved targeting of rural doctors using medical workforce data. Australian Journal of Rural Health, 20: 3–10. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1584.2011.01252.x
- Issue published online: 17 JAN 2012
- Article first published online: 17 JAN 2012
- Accepted for publication 28 November 2011.
- ASGC – Remoteness Area;
- geographical classifications;
- resource allocation;
Objective: The objective of this study was to define an improved classification for allocating incentives to support the recruitment and retention of doctors in rural Australia.
Design and setting: Geo-coded data (n = 3636 general practitioners (GPs)) from the national Medicine in Australia: Balancing Employment and Life study were used to examine statistical variation in four professional indicators (total hours worked, public hospital work, on call after-hours and difficulty taking time off) and two non-professional indicators (partner employment and schooling opportunities) which are all known to be related to difficulties with recruitment and retention.
Main outcome measures: The main outcome measure used for the study was an association of six sentinel indicators for GPs with practice location and population size of community.
Results: Four distinct homogeneous population size groups were identified (0–5000, 5001-15 000, 15 001–50 000 and >50 000). Although geographical remoteness (measured using the Australian Standard Geographical Classification – Remoteness Areas (ASGC-RA)) was statistically associated with all six indicators (P < 0.001), population size provided a more sensitive measure in directing where recruitment and retention incentives should be provided. A new six-level rurality classification is proposed, based on a combination of four population size groups and the five ASGC-RA levels. A significant increase in statistical association is measured in four of six indicators (and a slight increase in one indicator) using the new six-level classification versus the existing ASGC-RA classification.
Conclusions: This new six-level geographical classification provides a better basis for equitable resource allocation of recruitment and retention incentives to doctors based on the attractiveness of non-metropolitan communities, both professionally and non-professionally, as places to work and live.