A geographical workforce analysis of hand therapy services in relation to US population characteristics

Caroline W. Stegink-Jansen, Prisca M. Collins, Ronald W. Lindsey, James L. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Introduction A paucity of work force planning literature exists for hand therapy services. Purpose This descriptive study aimed to map the geographical distribution of US Certified Hand Therapists (CHTs) and describe characteristics of US populations living in respective CHT workplace Zip Code Tabulation Areas (ZCTAs). Methods A de-identified Zip Code list of all active CHTs through April 2016 from the Hand Therapy Certification Commission, included 5572 CHTs with US ZCTAs. The CHT ZCTAs were matched with population parameters “rurality”, “poverty” and “race and ethnicity” from the 2010 US Census and 2014 American Community Survey. Results The 5,572 CHTs practice ZCTAs mostly overlapped with high density US population areas, covering just 9% of the total number of 33,120 US ZCTAs. The population in CHT ZCTAs was 1) urban in nature, 2) with lower poverty rates than ZCTAs without CHTs, and 3) mostly reflecting US race and ethnicity population distribution. Only 3.7% of CHTs worked in large concentrations of 11 to 26 CHTs per ZCTA near or in urban centers. Most CHTs, 67%, worked in one to three CHTs per ZCTA concentrations, contributing to a larger geographic spread of CHT locations than expected. Discussion and Conclusion This study provides a foundational snap shot of the distribution, the potential availability, of the 2016 CHT workforce in the context of US population characteristics. It may serve as baseline for supply and demand studies and interventions to grow the CHT profession and optimize the distribution of CHTs to better meet population needs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)383-396.e1
JournalJournal of Hand Therapy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2017


  • Certified Hand Therapist
  • Geoinformatics
  • Hand therapy
  • Health care access
  • Natalie Barr

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


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