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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Identification of recruitment and retention strategies for rehabilitation professionals in Ontario, Canada: results from expert panels

Diem Tran1, Linda McGillis Hall2, Aileen Davis13, Michel D Landry45*, Dawn Burnett6, Katherine Berg14 and Susan Jaglal14

Author Affiliations

1 Graduate Department of Rehabilitation Science, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada

2 Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada

3 Toronto Western Research Institute, Ontario, Canada

4 Department of Physical Therapy, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada

5 Department of Health Policy and Management, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA

6 Canadian Physiotherapy Association, Ontario, Canada

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BMC Health Services Research 2008, 8:249  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-8-249

Published: 9 December 2008



Demand for rehabilitation services is expected to increase due to factors such as an aging population, workforce pressures, rise in chronic and complex multi-system disorders, advances in technology, and changes in interprofessional health service delivery models. However, health human resource (HHR) strategies for Canadian rehabilitation professionals are lagging behind other professional groups such as physicians and nurses. The objectives of this study were: 1) to identify recruitment and retention strategies of rehabilitation professionals including occupational therapists, physical therapists and speech language pathologists from the literature; and 2) to investigate both the importance and feasibility of the identified strategies using expert panels amongst HHR and education experts.


A review of the literature was conducted to identify recruitment and retention strategies for rehabilitation professionals. Two expert panels, one on Recruitment and Retention and the other on Education were convened to determine the importance and feasibility of the identified strategies. A modified-delphi process was used to gain consensus and to rate the identified strategies along these two dimensions.


A total of 34 strategies were identified by the Recruitment and Retention and Education expert panels as being important and feasible for the development of a HHR plan for recruitment and retention of rehabilitation professionals. Seven were categorized under the Quality of Worklife and Work Environment theme, another seven in Financial Incentives and Marketing, two in Workload and Skill Mix, thirteen in Professional Development and five in Education and Training.


Based on the results from the expert panels, the three major areas of focus for HHR planning in the rehabilitation sector should include strategies addressing Quality of Worklife and Work Environment, Financial Incentives and Marketing and Professional Development.