Publications Publication - Unraveling attrition and retention: A qualitative study with rehabilitation professionals

Une publication de Susanne Mak (Université McGill) et collègues, soutenue par le Réseau suite au concours de soutien aux publications scientifiques 2023-2024. Parution en open access grâce au soutien du Réseau dans Work, vol. Pre-press, no. Pre-press, pp. 1-15, 2024.

Autrices et auteurs

Susanne Mak, Alikia Thomas, Saleemd Razack, Kelly Root et Matthew Hunt



Health human resources are scarce worldwide. In occupational therapy (OT), physical therapy (PT), and speech-language pathology (S-LP), attrition and retention issues amplify this situation and contribute to the precarity of health systems.


To investigate the phenomena of attrition and retention with OTs, PTs and S-LPs who stayed in, or left their profession.


Cultural-historical activity theory provided the theoretical scaffolding for this interpretive description study. We used purposeful sampling (maximum variation approach) to recruit OTs, PTs, and S-LPs from Quebec, Canada. Individual interviews were conducted with 51 OTs, PTs, and S-LPs from Quebec, Canada, in English or French (2019–2020). Inductive and deductive approaches, and constant comparative techniques were used for data analysis.


Six themes were developed: 1) characteristics of work that made it meaningful; 2) aspects of work that practitioners appreciate; 3) factors of daily work that weigh on a practitioner; 4) factors that contribute to managing work; 5) relationships with different stakeholders that shape daily work; and 6) perceptions of the profession. Meaningfulness was tied to participants’ sense that their values were reflected in their work. Factors outside work shaped participants’ work experiences. Recurrent negative experiences led some to leave their profession.


Findings underscore a critical need to address contributing factors to attrition and retention which are essential to ensuring the availability of OTs, PTs and SLPs for present and future rehabilitation needs.