Exploring utilisation of the allied health assistant workforce in the Victorian health, aged care and disability sectors

Jessica Huglin, Lucy Whelan, Sharon McLean, Kathryn Greer, Debra Mitchell, Sharon Downie, Melanie K. Farlie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Allied health assistants (AHAs) support allied health professionals (AHPs) to meet workforce demands in modern healthcare systems. Previous studies have indicated that AHAs may be underutilised in some contexts. This study aims to identify factors contributing to the effective utilisation of AHAs across health, aged care and disability sectors and possible pathway elements that may optimise AHA careers in Victoria. Methods: Using an interpretive description approach data collection included a workforce survey and semi structured interviews (individual and group). Data analysis included descriptive statistics, independent t-tests and thematic analysis. Participants included allied health assistants, allied health professionals and allied health leaders in the health, aged care or disability sectors; educators, managers or student of allied health assistance training; and consumers of Victorian health, disability or aged care services. Results: The literature scan identified numerous potential barriers to and enablers of AHA workforce utilisation. A total of 727 participants completed the survey consisting of AHAs (n = 284), AHPs & allied health leaders (n = 443). Thirteen group and 25 individual interviews were conducted with a total of 119 participants. Thematic analysis of the interview data identified four interrelated factors (system, training, individual and workplace) in pre-employment training and workplace environments. These factors were reported to contribute to effective utilisation of the AHA workforce across health, aged care and disability sectors. Study findings were also used to create a conceptual diagram of potential AHA career pathway elements. Conclusion: This study identified pre-employment and workplace factors which may contribute to the optimal utilisation of the AHA workforce across Victorian health, aged care and disability sectors. Further study is needed to investigate the transferability of these findings to national and global contexts, and testing of the conceptual model.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1144
Number of pages12
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 23 Oct 2021


  • Allied health
  • Assistant
  • Career
  • Delegation
  • Support
  • Workforce

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