Access to physical therapy in a medically underserved, urban community

Gail M. Huber*, Grant Bitzer, Christopher Corazzi, Stephanie Fitzsimmons, Melissa Horgan, Jordan Shelley, Alescia Hollowell, William E. Healey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Purpose. Austin is Chicago’s largest community and is 85% African American. The purpose of this study was to the examine facilitators and barriers to physical therapy (PT) access as described by Austin community residents and health care providers (HCPs). Methods. Community residents (n=47) participated in focus groups. Seven HCPs from Austin were interviewed by telephone or in person. All focus groups and interviews were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using a constant comparative method. Results. Austin residents and HCPs reported that having insurance and having a positive view of PT were facilitators to PT access. Barriers included poor proximity to PT clinics, cost, and incomplete knowledge of PT. Conclusions. Three barriers were identified by community residents and HCPs, all are modifiable factors. Future research should focus on increasing awareness about the benefits of PT and developing low-cost PT options. The PT desert identified in this study highlights the needs of underserved communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)768-788
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of health care for the poor and underserved
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2019


  • Medically underserved
  • Physical therapy access
  • Qualitative
  • Urban

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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