Importance of attachment to place in growing a sustainable Australian Rural Health Workforce: A rapid review

Lisa Beccaria*, Peter McIlveen, Erich C. Fein, Tricia Kelly, Rowena McGregor, Rana Rezwanul

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Personal, community, and environmental factors can influence the attraction and retention of regional, rural, and remote health workers. However, the concept of place attachment needs further attention as a factor affecting the sustainability of the rural health workforce.

Objective: The purpose of this rapid review was to explore the influence of a sense of place in attracting and retaining health professionals in rural and remote areas.

Design: A systematic rapid review was conducted based on an empirical model using four dimensions: place dependence, place identity, social bonding and nature bonding. English-language publications between 2011 and 2021 were sought from academic databases, including studies relevant to Australian health professionals.

Findings: A total of 348 articles were screened and 52 included in the review. Place attachment factors varied across disciplines and included (a) intrinsic place-based personal factors; (b) learning experiences enhancing self-efficacy and rural health work interest; (c) relational, social and community integration; and (d) connection to place with lifestyle aspirations.

Discussion: This rapid review provides insight into the role of relational connections in building a health workforce and suggests that community factors are important in building attachment through social bonding and place identity. Results indicate that future health workforce research should focus on career decision-making and psychological appraisals including place attachment.

Conclusion: An attachment to place might develop through placement experiences or from a strong rural upbringing. The importance of the relational interactions within a work community and the broader community is seen as an important factor in attracting, recruiting, and sustaining a rural health workforce.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)620-642
Number of pages23
JournalAustralian Journal of Rural Health
Issue number5
Early online date6 Oct 2021
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • attraction
  • health workforce
  • place
  • retention
  • rural


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