Components of compulsory service program for health professionals in low- and middle-income countries: a scoping review

Carl Abelardo Antonio, Jonathan P. Guevarra, PN Medina, MD Avelino, AG Agbon, DC Sepe, DD Bardelosa, MM Cengca, ML Ting, AB Lara

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Aims: The global health landscape has been characterized by shortfalls and imbalances in human resources for health (HRH), with more health workers concentrated in urban than rural areas. To address this maldistribution, some countries resorted to the implementation of a compulsory service policy for HRH. However, there is no comprehensive documentation describing the different components of such policies. This scoping review aims to determine the components for compulsory service for selected health professionals in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).
Methods: A search was conducted in MEDLINE, PLoS, Scopus, and ProQuest Central, using keywords for ‘compulsory service’, ‘return service’, ‘mandatory service’, ‘physician’, ‘dentist’, ‘nurse’, ‘midwife’, ‘physical therapist’, ‘occupational therapist’, and identified LMICs. A total of 6757 records were retrieved and assessed, from which 41 relevant records were included in the study.
Results and conclusions: Common elements of a compulsory service program are the following: a comprehensive master plan, clearly articulated program goals, appropriate education and training, transparent recruitment and placement, strong institutional and system support, competitive benefits and incentives, and active management of exit from the program. Results presented in this article can serve to inform LMICs on policy, guide program development and management, and direct future research in the area of HRH to address challenges in maldistribution.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-61
Number of pages8
JournalPerspectives in Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020


  • compulsory service
  • contract service
  • fellowships and scholarships
  • health personnel
  • review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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