Guidelines: incentives for health professionals


International Council of Nurses, International Pharmaceutical Federation, World Dental Federation, World Medical Association, International Hospital Federation, World Confederation for Physical Therapy.

Publication details

Editors: ICN
Number of pages: 41
Publication date: 2008
Languages: English, Français, Español


Also available in:

This paper was commissioned by the health professions with the support of the GHWA to provide an overview of the use of incentives for health care professionals.

It describes some of the different approaches taken and presents characteristics shared by effective incentive schemes. The paper also suggests some approaches to their development and implementation.

Literature on the application of incentive schemes in health care acknowledges that financial incentives alone are not sufficient to retain and motivate staff. Research has confirmed that non-financial incentives play an equally crucial role.

Effective incentive schemes typically share the following characteristics:

  • have clear objectives;
  • are realistic and deliverable;
  • reflect health professionals’ needs and preferences;
  • are well designed, strategic and fit-for-purpose;
  • are contextually appropriate;
  • are fair, equitable and transparent;
  • are measurable; and
  • incorporate financial and non-financial elements.