Demographics of the Australian orthotic and prosthetic workforce 2007-12 Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Objective Health workforce data are vital to inform initiatives to meet the future healthcare needs of our society, but there are currently no data describing the Australian orthotic and prosthetic workforce. The aim of the present study was to describe demographic changes in the Australian orthotic and prosthetic workforce from 2007 to 2012. Methods In the present retrospective time series study, data from the Australian Orthotic Prosthetic Association member database were analysed for trends from 2007 to 2012. Data describing the absolute number of practitioners, the number of practitioners per 100 000 population, age, gender, state or territory of residence and service location (i.e. metropolitan, regional and remote) were analysed for significant changes over time using linear regression models. Results Although the number of orthotist/prosthetists in Australia increased (P = 0.013), the number of orthotist/prosthetists per 100 000 population remained unchanged (P = 0.054). The workforce became younger (P = 0.004) and more female (P = 0.005). Only Victoria saw an increase in the proportion of orthotist/prosthetists in regional and remote areas. There was considerable state-to-state variation. Only Victoria (P = 0.01) and Tasmania (P = 0.003) saw an increase in the number of orthotist/prosthetists per 100 000 population. Conclusions The orthotic and prosthetic workforce has increased proportionately to Australia’s population growth, become younger and more female. The proportion of practitioners in regional and remote areas has remained unchanged. These data can help inform workforce initiatives to increase the number of orthotist/prosthetists relative to the Australian population and make the services of orthotist/prosthetists more accessible to Australians in regional and remote areas. What is known about the topic? Currently, there are no demographic data describing changes in the Australian orthotic and prosthetic workforce over time. These data are vital to inform initiatives to increase the size of the workforce, locate practitioners where health services are most needed and thereby plan to meet the future health care needs of our society. What does this paper add? This paper describes changes in the Australian orthotic and prosthetic workforce, where previously these data have not been available as part of federal initiatives to plan for future workforce needs. What are the implications for practitioners? Demographic data describing changes in the orthotic and prosthetic workforce are needed to inform workforce initiatives that improve access in regional and remote Australia, and retain a younger and more female workforce.

publication date

  • 2016