[Excerpt from authors]Background: Despite the undoubted importance of human resources to the functions of health systems, there is little consistency between countries in how human resource strategies are monitored and evaluated. This paper presents an integrated approach for developing an evidence base on human resources for health (HRH) to support decision-making, drawing on a framework for health systems performance assessment. Conclusion: Evidence-based information is needed to better understand trends in HRH. Although a range of sources exist that can potentially be used for HRH assessment, the information that can be derived from many of these individual sources precludes refined analysis. A variety of data sources and analytical approaches, each with its own strengths and limitations, is required to reflect the complexity of HRH issues. In order to enhance cross-national comparability, data collection efforts should be processed through the use of internationally standardized classifications (in particular, for occupation, industry and education) at the greatest level of detail possible.