Approaches to Assess Health Workforce Requirements

ApproachDefining Workforce RequirementsAdvantagesDisadvantagesExamples
Less data required, but less sensitive to changing population health needsWorkforce-to-population ratiosBenchmarks of workforce densityStraightforward and less data requiredInsensitive to changing population health needsWHO workforce requirements for UHC21
Service utilization/ service target approachCurrent levels of service utilization, or future targets in service deliverySimple but requires availability of data on service utilizationUtilization patterns not necessarily an indicator of met demandThailand study by Pagaiya et al.22
More data and resources required, but more accurate in estimating needHealth needs approachSociodemographic and epidemiological dataMore accurate assessment of health needs based on disease burdenRequires more data (e.g., burden of disease) which may not be readily availableMental health workforce in LMICs23
Workload Indicators of Staffing NeedWorkload pressure in a health facility against activity standardsProvides a strong basis for health workforce needs up to health facility levelRequires additional capacity and time to perform data collection and analysisPhilippines study by Aytona et al.24
No approach to guide planning; market forces determine health workforce quantity, skill mix, and distribution.
  • Abbreviations: LMICs, low- and middle-income countries; UHC, universal health coverage; WHO, World Health Organization.