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Aust J Rural Health. 2015 Aug;23(4):227-34. doi: 10.1111/ajr.12163. Epub 2015 Jul 7.

Who are they and what do they do? Profile of allied health professionals working with people with disabilities in rural and remote New South Wales.

Author information

1
Centre for Health Research, School of Medicine, University of Western Sydney, Penrith, New South Wales, Australia.
2
Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Sydney, Lidcombe, New South Wales, Australia.
3
Family and Community Services, Ageing, Disability and Home Care, New South Wales, Australia.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To explore the characteristics of allied health professionals (AHPs) working with people with disabilities in western New South Wales (NSW).

DESIGN:

A cross-sectional survey was conducted using an online questionnaire.

SETTING:

Rural western NSW.

PARTICIPANTS:

AHPs including physiotherapists, speech pathologists, occupational therapists and psychologists ('therapists') working with people with disabilities.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE:

AHPs characteristics.

RESULTS:

The majority of respondents were women (94%), with a mean age of 39 years; average time since qualification was 14 years; mean years in current position was 6. Most worked with people with a lifelong disability. Two thirds reported that family ties kept them in rural areas; 71% grew up in a rural/remote area. Most participants (94%) enjoyed the rural lifestyle, and 84% reported opportunities for social interaction as good or very good. Participants with dependent children were less likely to cease working in western NSW within 5 years than those without dependent children (P < 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS:

The characteristics of therapists working with people with disabilities in rural NSW were identified. Overall working, but also social conditions and community attachment were important for this group. Understanding the workforce will contribute to policy development to meet increasing demands for therapy services.

KEYWORDS:

allied health professional; disability; retention; therapy; workforce

PMID:
26153240
DOI:
10.1111/ajr.12163
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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