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Triaging patients for allied health services: a systematic review of the literature

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Occupational therapists and other allied health clinicians often need to make decisions about the relative urgency of referrals, which patients should be seen first and, in some cases, whether patients require services at all. A systematic review of the literature was conducted to investigate the properties and outcomes of triage systems applied to patients referred to allied health services. Literature was searched through the CINAHL, EMBASE and MEDLINE databases (until March 2008), combining the key elements of 'allied health' and 'triage'. Seven articles were identified that met the inclusion and exclusion criteria, and these were assessed against quality criteria and a process of descriptive synthesis applied for the purpose of analysis and comparison.

The findings indicate that there has been little investigation of the outcomes of allied health triage systems. Studies that have assessed triage systems have focused largely on measurement properties and the majority of these have indicated poor to fair reliability. A first step in introducing allied health triage systems is to establish reliability, involving the patient directly in the assessment process. There is not yet sufficient evidence to recommend any particular triage system for application to allied health services.


Document Type: Review Article

Publication date: April 1, 2009

More about this publication?
  • The British Journal of Occupational Therapy (BJOT) is the official journal of the College of Occupational Therapists. Its purpose is to publish articles relevant to theory, practice, research, education and management in occupational therapy internationally.

    BJOT publishes research articles, critical reviews, practice analyses, opinion pieces, editorials, letters to the editor, book reviews and an annual index. Please refer to the author's guide at http://www.cot.co.uk/british-journal-bjot/british-journal-occupational-therapy

    Submissions can be made at http://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/bjot

    The 2013 Impact Factor for The British Journal of Occupational Therapy is 0.897.

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