Hand therapy services for rural and remote residents: results of a survey of Australian occupational therapists and physiotherapists

Kingston, Gail A., Williams, Gary, Judd, Jenni, and Gray, Marion A. (2015) Hand therapy services for rural and remote residents: results of a survey of Australian occupational therapists and physiotherapists. Australian Journal of Rural Health, 23 (2). pp. 112-121.

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Objective: The aim of this study was to explore how interventions were provided to meet the needs of rural/ remote residents who have had a traumatic hand injury, including the coordination of services between rural/ remote and metro/regional therapists. Barriers to providing services, use of technology and professional support provided to therapists in rural/remote areas were also explored.

Design: Cross-sectional survey.

Setting: Metropolitan/regional and rural/remote public health facilities in Australia.

Participants: Occupational therapists and physiotherapists who provide hand therapy to rural/remote patients.

Main outcome measure: Quantitative and qualitative questionnaire responses analysed with descriptive statistics and inductive analysis.

Results: There were 64 respondents out of a possible 185. Over half of rural/remote respondents provided initial splinting and exercise prescriptions, and over 85% reported that they continued with exercise protocols. Videoconferencing technology for patient intervention and clinical review was used by 39.1% respondents. Barriers to providing services in rural/ remote locations included transport, travelling time, limited staff, and lack of expert knowledge in hand injuries or rural/remote health care. Four major themes emerged from the open-ended questions: working relationships, patient-centred care, staff development and education, and rural and remote practice.

Conclusion: The use of technology across Australia to support rural/remote patient intervention requires attention to achieve equity and ease of use. Flexible and realistic goals and interventions should be considered when working with rural/remote patients. A shared care approach between metropolitan/regional and rural/ remote therapists can improve understanding of rural/ remote issues and provide support to therapists. Further research is recommended to determine the suitability of this approach when providing hand therapy to rural/ remote residents.

Item ID: 37255
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1440-1584
Keywords: hand injury;model of service delivery;occupational therapy;physiotherapy;rural health
Date Deposited: 23 Dec 2015 06:57
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111799 Public Health and Health Services not elsewhere classified @ 34%
11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1103 Clinical Sciences > 110317 Physiotherapy @ 33%
11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1103 Clinical Sciences > 110321 Rehabilitation and Therapy (excl Physiotherapy) @ 33%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9202 Health and Support Services > 920201 Allied Health Therapies (excl. Mental Health Services) @ 100%
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