Objective: To compare health care planning models forecasting rheumatology workforce requirements in western countries. Methods: A systematic literature review was conducted through medical databases (Ovid MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL, and Cochrane Library) and the grey literature. All articles reporting a rheumatology workforce model were included. Results: The search yielded 6,508 articles, and 14 publications (on 12 studies) were included. Workforce models were available for the US (n = 3), Canada (n = 3), the US plus Canada (n = 1), Germany (n = 2), Spain (n = 1), and the UK (n = 2). The number of rheumatologists required to serve a population of 100,000 people was calculated, with a range of 0.7 (UK, calculated for 1988) to 3.5 (Spain, calculated for 2021). Most models used a needs-based approach (n = 6); 3 studies each applied a supply- or demand-based method. The following variables were considered by ≥1 model: disease prevalence, patients' referral to rheumatologists, clinical visits/patient/year, population development, factors influencing performance of rheumatologists, patient flow/care sharing, and medical technologies/infrastructure development. Conclusion: Heterogeneity in methods used, the period or calendar years for which the estimates were projected, and heterogeneity of variables evaluated led to disparate estimates, with results ranging from 0.7 to 3.5 rheumatologists per 100,000 population. An international initiative is needed to agree upon a common approach for a reliable estimation of manpower requirements in rheumatology.
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