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Nursing and allied health workforce in Australian public rheumatology departments is inadequate: a cross-sectional observational study

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posted on 2024-04-11, 03:38 authored by Glen WhittakerGlen Whittaker, Catherine L Hill, Linda A Bradbury, Janet R Millner, Harrison Cliffe, Daniel BonannoDaniel Bonanno, Aspasia KazantzisAspasia Kazantzis, Hylton MenzHylton Menz
Rheumatological conditions are complex and impact many facets of daily life. Management of people with rheumatological conditions can be optimised through multidisciplinary care. However, the current access to nursing and allied health professionals in Australia is unknown. A cross-sectional study of nursing and allied health professionals in Australian public rheumatology departments for adult and paediatric services was conducted. The heads of Australian public rheumatology departments were invited to report the health professionals working within their departments, referral pathways, and barriers to greater multidisciplinary care. A total of 27/39 (69.2%) of the hospitals responded. The most common health professionals within departments were nurses (n = 23; 85.2%) and physiotherapists (n = 10; 37.0%), followed by pharmacists (n = 5; 18.5%), psychologists (n = 4; 14.8%), and occupational therapists (n = 4; 14.8%). No podiatrists were employed within departments. Referral pathways were most common for physiotherapy (n = 20; 74.1%), followed by occupational therapy (n = 15; 55.5%), podiatry (n = 13; 48.1%), and psychology (n = 6; 22%). The mean full-time equivalent of nursing and allied health professionals per 100,000 population in Australia was 0.29. Funding was identified as the most common barrier. In Australia, publicly funded multidisciplinary care from nurses and allied health professionals in rheumatology departments is approximately 1.5 days per week on average. This level of multidisciplinary care is unlikely to meet the needs of rheumatology patients. Research is needed to determine the minimum staffing requirements of nursing and allied health professionals to provide optimal care.


This study received funding for a research assistant through a grant from the School of Allied Health, Human Services and Sport at La Trobe University.


Publication Date



Rheumatology International: clinical and experimental investigations






8p. (p. 901-908)


Springer Nature



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