Background: Strong and effective workforce models are essential for improving comprehensive Indigenous primary healthcare service (PHC) provision to Indigenous peoples in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the USA (CANZUS nations). This review systematically scoped the literature for studies that described or evaluated models and systems that support the sustainability, capacity or growth of the Indigenous PHC workforce to provide effective PHC provision.
Methods: Eleven databases, 10 websites and clearinghouses, and the reference lists of 5 review articles were searched for relevant studies from CANZUS nations published in English from 2000 to 2017. A process of thematic analysis was utilised to identify key conditions, strategies and outcomes of Indigenous PHC workforce development reported in the literature.
Results: Overall, 28 studies were found. Studies reported enabling conditions for workforce development as government funding and appropriate regulation, support and advocacy by professional organisations; community engagement; PHC leadership, supervision and support; and practitioner Indigeneity, motivation, power equality and wellbeing. Strategies focused on enhancing recruitment and retention; strengthening roles, capacity and teamwork; and improving supervision, mentoring and support. Only 12/28 studies were evaluations, and these studies were generally of weak quality. These studies reported impacts of improved workforce sustainability, workforce capacity, resourcing/growth and healthcare performance improvements.
Conclusions: PHCs can strengthen their workforce models by bringing together healthcare providers to consider how these strategies and enabling conditions can be improved to meet the healthcare and health needs of the local community. Improvement is also needed in the quality of evidence relating to particular strategies to guide practice.