The influence of motivation in recruitment and retention of rural and remote allied health professionals: a literature review

Narelle Campbell, Lindy McAllister, Diann Eley

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    113 Citations (Scopus)


    Introduction: Recruitment and retention of allied health professionals (AHPs) to remote and rural Australia is challenging and correlates with poorer health status of remote and rural residents. While much has been written about the recruitment and retention problem, this study took a new approach by reviewing the literature describing the motivation of AHPs to work in remote and rural areas and then analyzing the findings from the perspective of motivation theory using Herzberg's extrinsic and intrinsic classification. Intrinsic motivation incentives are known to contribute to job satisfaction and come from within the individual, for example the pleasure derived from autonomy or challenge at work. In contrast, extrinsic motivation incentives are provided by the job and include such factors as salary and professional development provisions. Extrinsic incentives are important because they prevent job dissatisfaction. Job satisfaction has been shown to be linked with increased retention. Method: Thirty-five articles, including 26 from Australia, met the inclusion criteria. The key findings related to motivation from each article are outlined and the results classified into the extrinsic-intrinsic framework. The incentives are then further analyzed as having a positive or a negative influence. Results: In total, 38 different incentives were described a total of 246 times. Of the total, almost half (n=115) comprised extrinsic incentives with a negative influence, with poor access to professional development, professional isolation and insufficient supervision the most frequently reported. Rural lifestyle and diverse caseloads were the most frequently mentioned positive extrinsic incentives, while autonomy and community connectedness were the most cited positive intrinsic incentives. Negative intrinsic incentives were mentioned least frequently (n=18); however, of these, feeling overwhelmed and that your work was not valued by the community were the most commonly reported. Conclusions: The results demonstrate the significant burden of extrinsic incentives with a negative influence that are perceived by AHPs in remote and rural areas. The high turnover rate of AHPs in remote and rural areas is likely to be, in part, due to the job dissatisfaction from these disincentives. More positive intrinsic incentives were reported than negative. This suggests the potential for intrinsic incentives, known to contribute to job satisfaction, to be mediating the extrinsic disincentives. The policy implications of this work include the importance of addressing extrinsic disincentives. Simultaneously, the existing intrinsic incentives need to be nurtured and developed. Organizations that implement strategies to enhance both extrinsic and intrinsic motivation incentives are more likely to successfully address their AHP workforce shortage.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number1900
    Pages (from-to)1900
    Number of pages15
    JournalRural and Remote Health
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2012


    • Allied health professional
    • Australia
    • Extrinsic
    • Intrinsic
    • Job satisfaction
    • Motivation
    • Remote and rural workforce


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