Purpose: Development of Physical Therapy (PT) services for people with disability is one of the urgent challenges in the health sector in Papua New Guinea (PNG). However, information on the current status of PT services in PNG is scarce, as also is the case for the hospital-based outpatient PT services. This study aimed to describe the characteristics of outpatients receiving PT services in a provincial hospital in West New Britain (WNB) Province, PNG and to compare them with the characteristics of inpatients.
Method: This was a retrospective case study using outpatient and inpatient records. The records of clients receiving PT services as either outpatients (413 records, outpatient group) or inpatients (350 records, inpatient group) were reviewed in relation to sex, age and diagnosis. Comparisons were made between the two groups on basis of quantitative data of the two patient groups .
Results: The final analysis comprised 404 records in the outpatient group and 344 records in the inpatient group. In the outpatient group, injury and musculoskeletal disease were forming the most dominant diagnosis groups with 52.5% and 22.0%, respectively. Injury was most common in the age group 20 to 39 years and musculoskeletal diseases was most common in the age group 40 to 59 years. These two diagnosis groups and congenital malformations were significantly more represented among outpatients than among inpatients.
Conclusions: Young to middle-aged clients with injury or musculoskeletal disease were predominant among outpatient PT services as compared to inpatient services. The study findings serve to provide information on the current situation and potential needs of hospital-based outpatient PT services in one provincial hospital of PNG. These findings could be the base for planning outpatient PT service in WNB Province and PNG.