Expanding the lens of HIV services provision in Canada: results of a national survey of HIV health professionals
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Those living with HIV may experience a range of disabilities, including body impairments, activity limitations, and social participation restrictions. The aim of this study was to examine HIV services provision in Canada by exploring practices, referrals, and service delivery challenges from the perspective of HIV health professionals (including nurses, physicians, social workers, pharmacists, psychologists, and dieticians), and to explore differences in referrals and perceived service delivery challenges by professional group, jurisdiction, community size, and practice in a Northern region. We conducted a nationwide mail survey with the population of selected HIV health professionals in Canada using the Dillman tailored design survey method. Of the 731 deliverable mailings, we received 462 (63%) responses, with 36% of eligible respondents completing the survey (n=214). The large majority (90%) of HIV professionals were located in metropolitan or urban communities and worked predominantly in hospital in-patient (42%), out-patient (50%), and HIV specialty clinic (46%) settings in one of the three provinces (Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia) with the highest HIV prevalence. HIV health professionals referred primarily, and at relatively high levels, to AIDS service organizations (79%) and social workers (84%) to address participation restrictions and social issues; a lower percentage referred to rehabilitation professionals and other service providers to address impairments, activity limitations, or participation restrictions. Of respondents, 74% perceived barriers to care specific to HIV. Our results suggest that there is little difference in referral patterns by profession, jurisdiction, community size, or northern region of practice. There is a need for increased information and education of HIV health professionals that may refer to rehabilitation and other health services. In addition, new approaches are needed to coordinate multisectoral care and enhance the access and delivery of HIV rehabilitation health services to better meet the disablement needs of people living with HIV in Canada.
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