Open Access Research article

Attractiveness of employment sectors for physical therapists in Ontario, Canada (1999-2007): implication for the long term care sector

Michel D Landry123*, Robyn Hastie4, Känecy Oñate4, Brenda Gamble5, Raisa B Deber4 and Molly C Verrier2

Author Affiliations

1 Doctor of Physical Therapy Division, Duke University Medical Centre, Box 104002, Durham, North Carolina, USA

2 Department of Physical Therapy in the Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada

3 Department of Health Policy and Management in the Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA

4 Department of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation (HPME) in the Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada

5 Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Oshawa, ON, Canada

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BMC Health Services Research 2012, 12:133  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-12-133

Published: 29 May 2012



Recruiting and retaining health professions remains a high priority for health system planners. Different employment sectors may vary in their appeal to providers. We used the concepts of inflow and stickiness to assess the relative attractiveness of sectors for physical therapists (PTs) in Ontario, Canada. Inflow was defined as the percentage of PTs working in a sector who were not there the previous year. Stickiness was defined as the transition probability that a physical therapist will remain in a given employment sector year-to-year.


A longitudinal dataset of registered PTs in Ontario (1999-2007) was created, and primary employment sector was categorized as ‘hospital’, ‘community’, ‘long term care’ (LTC) or ‘other.’ Inflow and stickiness values were then calculated for each sector, and trends were analyzed.


There were 5003 PTs in 1999, which grew to 6064 by 2007, representing a 21.2% absolute growth. Inflow grew across all sectors, but the LTC sector had the highest inflow of 32.0%. PTs practicing in hospitals had the highest stickiness, with 87.4% of those who worked in this sector remaining year-to-year. The community and other employment sectors had stickiness values of 78.2% and 86.8% respectively, while the LTC sector had the lowest stickiness of 73.4%.


Among all employment sectors, LTC had highest inflow but lowest stickiness. Given expected increases in demand for services, understanding provider transitional probabilities and employment preferences may provide a useful policy and planning tool in developing a sustainable health human resource base across all employment sectors.

Physical therapy; Health human resources; Workforce