Retention of allied health professionals in rural and remote areas of South Australia

Retention of allied health professionals in rural and remote areas of South Australia Thesis

Faculty of Health and Biomedical Science

  • Author(s): Barney, Tania
  • Published: 1998
  • Publisher: University of South Australia
  • Volume: Master of Applied Science (Occupational Therapy)

Abstract: Around one third of all Australians live in rural and remote areas. People living in rural and remote areas tend to experience poorer health status than their metropolitan counterparts. Differences in health status are likely to be attributed, in part, to poorer access to health services. Many areas of rural and remote Australia experience a shortage and maldistribution of health care providers, high levels of health workforce turnover, and major problems with accessibility to services. These difficulties are inextricably linked to the recruitment and retention of health service providers. A number of factors have been identified in the literature as influencing the retention of rural and remote health service providers. Prominent amongst these are the possession of a rural background, and education and training, particularly access to continuing professional education. To date, retention has been less researched than recruitment, and most of the research has utilised quantitative methods, usually in the form of questionnaires. In addition, there is little research into factors which influence the retention of allied health professionals. An interpretive research approach was chosen for the current study, in order to explore the experiences and thoughts which led to allied health professionals either staying in or leaving rural and remote areas. Allied health professionals were asked what experiences influence their decision to stay or to leave, when living and working in rural and remote areas of South Australia. This approach allowed the issues being explored to be described in depth and detail. A descriptive study was utilised, influenced by the interpretive paradigm. In-depth interviews were conducted with allied health professionals about their experience of living and working in a rural or remote area, and the experiences which they saw as having an influence upon their decision to stay or to leave. Allied health professionals from two groups were interviewed; those who were living and working in a rural or remote area, and those who had lived and worked in a rural or remote area and had subsequently left. The interviews were audio taped and then transcribed verbatim. The interview transcripts were coded, and thematic analysis conducted in order to extract main themes. Member checks were used to check the accuracy and credibility of the findings and interpretations made. Twelve allied health professionals were interviewed. From the analysis of the interview data, five main themes emerged; Really a City Girl; Support Makes All the Difference; Feeling Cut Off; Being a Jill of All Trades; and If I Had It My Way. These themes suggest that socio-cultural adaptation, support, isolation, work variety and self-efficacy are important experiences influencing the decision of allied health professionals either to stay or to leave, when living and working in a rural or remote area. These findings have implications for local rural and remote services, universities, government bodies and professional associations.

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Suggested Citation
Barney, Tania, 1998, Retention of allied health professionals in rural and remote areas of South Australia, Volume:Master of Applied Science (Occupational Therapy), Thesis, viewed 19 September 2019, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=11058.

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