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Factors contributing to the recruitment and retention of rural pharmacist workforce: a systematic review

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-21, 03:01 authored by Terry, D, Hoang PhanHoang Phan, Peck, B, Hills, D, Mark KirschbaumMark Kirschbaum, Bishop, J, Kehinde ObamiroKehinde Obamiro, Thi HoangThi Hoang, Hoang NguyenHoang Nguyen, Baker, E, Schmitz, D

Background: Recruiting and retaining medical, nursing, and allied health professionals in rural and remote areas is a worldwide challenge, compromising continuity of care and population health outcomes in these locations. Specifically, pharmacists play an essential and accessible frontline healthcare role, and are often the first point of contact for health concerns. Despite several incentives, there remains a maldistribution and undersupply of pharmacists in rural and remote areas across many parts of the world. Although current systematic reviews have focussed on factors affecting pharmacists’ retention generally, literature specifically focused on rural pharmacist workforce in a global context remains limited. The aim of this systematic review is to identify factors associated with recruitment and retention of the pharmacist workforce in rural and remote settings. Better understanding of these contributors will inform more effective interventional strategies to resolve pharmacist workforce shortages.

Methods: A systematic search of primary studies was conducted in online databases, including Medline, Embase, CINAHL, Scopus, Web of Science and PsycINFO, and by hand-searching of reference lists. Eligible studies were identified based on predefined inclusion/exclusion criteria and methodological quality criteria, utilising the Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP) and Good Reporting of A Mixed Methods Study (GRAMMS) checklists.

Results: The final review included 13 studies, with quantitative, qualitative, or mixed methods research design. Study-specific factors associated with recruitment and retention of pharmacists in rural practice were identified and grouped into five main themes: geographic and family-related, economic and resources, scope of practice or skills development, the practice environment, and community and practice support factors.

Conclusions: The results provide critical insights into the complexities of rural recruitment and retention of pharmacists and confirms the need for flexible yet multifaceted responses to overcoming rural pharmacist workforce challenges. Overall, the results provide an opportunity for rural communities and health services to better identify key strengths and challenges unique to the rural and remote pharmacist workforce that may be augmented to guide more focussed recruitment and retention endeavours.


Publication title

BMC Health Services Research








Menzies Institute for Medical Research


Biomed Central Ltd

Place of publication

Middlesex House, 34-42 Cleveland St, London, England, W1T 4Lb

Rights statement

Copyright 2021 The Authors. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

Repository Status

  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Rural and remote area health

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