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Physiother Can. 2009 Winter;61(1):5-14. doi: 10.3138/physio.61.1.5. Epub 2009 Feb 13.

Wait times for publicly funded outpatient and community physiotherapy and occupational therapy services: implications for the increasing number of persons with chronic conditions in ontario, Canada.

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  • 1Laura A. Passalent, MHSc, BScPT: Research Associate, Arthritis Community Research and Evaluation Unit, Toronto, Ontario; Lecturer, Department of Physical Therapy, University of Toronto, Ontario.



Timely access to publicly funded health services has emerged as a priority policy issue across the continuum of care from hospitals to the home and community sector. The purpose of this study was to examine wait lists and wait times for publicly funded outpatient and community occupational therapy (OT) and physical therapy (PT) services.


A mailed self-administered questionnaire was sent in December 2005 to all publicly funded sites across Ontario that deliver outpatient or community OT or PT services (N = 374). Descriptive statistics were used to describe the study sample and to examine wait lists and wait times by setting and client condition.


Overall response rate was 57.2% (n = 214). More than 10,000 people were reported to be waiting for OT or PT services across Ontario. Of these, 16% (n = 1,664) were waiting for OT and 84% (n = 8,842) for PT. Of those waiting for OT, 59% had chronic conditions and half were waiting for home care rehabilitation services. Of those waiting for PT, 73% had chronic conditions and 81% were waiting at hospital outpatient departments.


Individuals with chronic conditions experience excessive wait times for outpatient and community OT and PT services in Ontario, particularly if they are waiting for services in hospital outpatient departments.


community services; physical therapy; physiotherapy; wait times

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