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Allied health professionals: A promising ally in the work against health inequalities- A rapid review

Gkiouleka, A., Aquino, M., Ojo-Aromokudu, O. , van Daalen, K. R., Kuhn, I. L., Turner-Moss, E., Thomas, K., Barnard, R. A. ORCID: 0000-0003-4319-9550, Strudwick, R. & Ford, J. (2022). Allied health professionals: A promising ally in the work against health inequalities- A rapid review. Public Health in Practice, 3, 100269. doi: 10.1016/j.puhip.2022.100269

Abstract

Objectives
Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) have a crucial role in reducing health inequalities. However, there is a lack of evidence regarding the ways they can fulfil this role. This rapid review explores the ways in which AHPs can decrease health care or health outcome inequalities; address inequalities in the social determinants of health; and support disadvantaged groups at an individual, organisational and system level.

Study design
Rapid review following Cochrane criteria and narrative synthesis.

Methods
MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, Web of Science and AMED were searched combined with grey literature, to identify quantitative or qualitative review articles published between January 2010 and February 2021.

Results
From 8727 references, 36 met the inclusion criteria. The methodological quality of the studies was assessed with the AMSTAR tool and was generally low. Meta-analysis was not possible due to the heterogeneity of the studies, and a narrative synthesis was produced. Three themes emerged at patient and organisational level: 1) access to AHP services; 2) quality of care; and 3) social determinants of health. Two themes emerged at system level: 1) unequal workforce distribution and 2) lack of inclusive clinical guidelines.

Conclusions
This rapid review offers a broad range of evidence on the ways AHPs can contribute to the reduction of inequalities in health care, both in terms of access and quality of care and in health outcomes. More research is needed to further understand the impact of AHPs on inequalities affecting specific groups and their contribution to equitable distribution of social determinants of health.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2022 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd on behalf of The Royal Society for Public Health. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).
Publisher Keywords: Allied health professionals, Health inequalities, Healthcare services, Social determinants of health
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
R Medicine > RT Nursing
Departments: School of Health Sciences > Language & Communication Science
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