Turnover and intent to leave among speech pathologists

Emma G.H. McLaughlin, Barbara J. Adamson, Michelle A. Lincoln, Julie F. Pallant, Cary L. Cooper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Sound, large scale and systematic research into why health professionals want to leave their jobs is needed. This study used psychometrically-sound tools and logistic regression analyses to determine why Australian speech pathologists were intending to leave their jobs or the profession. Based on data from 620 questionnaires, several variables were found to be significantly related to intent to leave. The speech pathologists intending to look for a new job were more likely to be under 34 years of age, and perceive low levels of job security and benefits of the profession. Those intending to leave the profession were more likely to spend greater than half their time at work on administrative duties, have a higher negative affect score, not have children under 18 years of age, and perceive that speech pathology did not offer benefits that met their professional needs. The findings of this study provide the first evidence regarding the reasons for turnover and attrition in the Australian speech pathology workforce, and can inform the development of strategies to retain a skilled and experienced allied health workforce. What is known about the topic?There is a recognised shortage of speech pathologists in Australia, and a growing need for their services. Despite this, there has been no large scale systematic investigation to clarify the reasons why Australian speech pathologists may be leaving their jobs or the profession. What does this paper add?This is the first large scale nationwide investigation into why Australian speech-language pathologists leave their jobs or the profession. Approximately 31% of Australian speech pathologists intended to change jobs and 13% intended to change professions in search of opportunities for promotion, better pay and more rewarding and interesting work. The traditional assumption that speech pathologists have been leaving the profession due to family responsibilities was not supported, as it appeared that speech pathologists without young children were more likely to explore roles outside the profession. What are the implications for practitioners?One way to address the issues raised in this study is for practising speech pathologists to increase their participation in industrial, organisational, educational and professional activities such as negotiating working conditions and lobbying. Student supervision, mentoring and professional supervision are important avenues for developing resilience and such skills that have not traditionally been given priority in the education of health professionals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-233
Number of pages7
JournalAustralian Health Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jun 2010
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Turnover and intent to leave among speech pathologists'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this