The Deployment and Utilization of the Allied Health Professions Support Workforce: A Scoping Review

ETTY, Sarah, SNAITH, Beverly, HINCHCLIFFE, Daniella and NIGHTINGALE, Julie (2024). The Deployment and Utilization of the Allied Health Professions Support Workforce: A Scoping Review. Journal of Multidisciplinary Healthcare, 17, 2251-2269.

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The demand for healthcare services internationally continues to increase, exacerbated by patient backlogs resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and the difficulties in recruiting and retaining healthcare staff. These difficulties have led to increased interest in workforce redesign, and the upskilling of existing staff in all areas of healthcare, including within the Allied Health Professions (AHP). Clinical support staff are a key component of workforce redesign, yet little has been documented on the utilization of this workforce across the wide range of professions that collectively form the AHP workforce. Existing research is also unclear due to the variety of titles used to describe them (eg, allied health assistants, therapy assistants, etc). This study aimed to review how Support Workers and Assistant Practitioners (SWAPs) are utilized within the AHP professions. Electronic databases (MEDLINE, CINAHL complete, Scopus, and Google Scholar) were searched to find English Language primary research articles that explored the deployment of clinical support staff within Allied Health. Following the scoping review methodology, data from each study were analyzed in terms of design, key findings, and implications. A quality assessment was also completed. Thirty-nine articles met the eligibility criteria. Studies were undertaken in Australia, UK, and USA, and covered a range of AHPs and methodological approaches. Most articles employed qualitative methods, with highly variable research quality identified. Key findings were that cost-effectiveness of this workforce has not been formally evaluated in any setting or AHP discipline, and that support workers are a largely underutilized staff group potentially due to inconsistencies in their deployment and scope of practice, and the lack of a clear career pathway. Rigorous, quantitative, and mixed methods research into the deployment and impact of this staff group is needed in order to gain a clearer understanding of how they are optimally utilized across the different AHP disciplines.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 11 Medical and Health Sciences; 32 Biomedical and clinical sciences; 42 Health sciences
Identification Number:
Page Range: 2251-2269
SWORD Depositor: Symplectic Elements
Depositing User: Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited: 15 May 2024 11:50
Last Modified: 15 May 2024 12:00

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