Planning the future oral health workforce: a rapid review of supply, demand and need models, data sources and skill mix considerations

Madhan Balasubramanian*, Aliya Hasan, Suruchi Ganbavale, Anfal Alolayah, Jennifer Gallagher

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Over the last decade, there has been a renewed interest in oral health workforce planning. The purpose of this review is to examine oral health workforce planning models on supply, demand and needs, mainly in respect to their data sources, modelling technique and use of skill mix. A limited search was carried out on PubMed and Web of Science for published scientific articles on oral health workforce planning models between 2010 to 2020. No restrictions were placed on the type of modelling philosophy, and all studies including supply, demand or needs based models were included. Rapid review methods guided the review process. Twenty-three studies from 15 countries were included in the review. A majority were from high-income countries (n = 17). Dentists were the sole oral health workforce group modelled in 13 studies; only five studies included skill mix (allied dental personnel) considerations. The most common application of modelling was a workforce to population ratio or a needs-based demand weighted variant. Nearly all studies presented weaknesses in modelling process due to the limitations in data sources and/or non-availability of the necessary data to inform oral health workforce planning. Skill mix considerations in planning models were also limited to horizontal integration within oral health professionals. Planning for the future oral health workforce is heavily reliant on quality data being available for supply, demand and needs models. Integrated methodologies that expand skill mix considerations and account for uncertainty are essential for future planning exercises.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2891
Pages (from-to)1-33
Number of pages33
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2 Mar 2021


  • Health workforce
  • Integration
  • Operational models
  • Planning
  • Skill mix


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