Disability concentration and access to rehabilitation services: a pilot spatial assessment applying geographic information system analysis

About the Project

Due to geographical disparities, many people with profound or severe disabilities experience considerable delays in rehabilitation treatment, resulting in threats to quality of life. This pilot study aims to identify areas in Greater Brisbane, Australia, with a higher concentration of people with profound or severe disabilities and to evaluate access to rehabilitation services in these areas.

 

Aims of the Project

Purpose: Due to geographical disparities, many people with profound or severe disabilities experience considerable delays in rehabilitation treatment, resulting in threats to quality of life. This pilot study aims to identify areas in Greater Brisbane, Australia, with a higher concentration of people with profound or severe disabilities and to evaluate access to rehabilitation services in these areas.

Methods: Data came from the 2016 Australian Census of Population and Housing and the National Health Services Directory. Four frequently used rehabilitation services by individuals with profound or severe disabilities (i.e., occupational therapy, physiotherapy, speech pathology and psychology) were the focus of the analysis. The data were analyzed using geospatial analysis methods (e.g., spatial scan statistic and network analysis).

Results: A higher concentration of rehabilitation services was found in the regions with lower disability prevalence and lower potential demand for rehabilitation services. In contrast, the regions with higher disability prevalence and higher potential demand for rehabilitation services experienced poorer access to rehabilitation services.

Conclusion: The findings are expected to inform policy decisions about the prioritization of rehabilitation resources and derive evidence for planning more responsive service delivery.

  • Implications for rehabilitation
  • The current study has demonstrated the utilization of geographic information system methods to facilitate rehabilitation service planning.
  • Identification of disability concentration may inform locally responsive rehabilitation service delivery.
  • Spatial assessment of mismatch between supply and potential demand may assist policy makers and service providers in the prioritization of rehabilitation resources.
  • The current study contributes to the World Health Organization’s call for action to ensure adequate access to rehabilitation services by people with profound or severe disabilities.

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