Chronic Condition Psychologist: implementing a new service in rural Queensland

Mrs Lisa Baker1, Ms Frances Lavis1

1Rural Allied & Community Health, Wide Bay HHS, Queensland Health, Gayndah, Australia


Background: The Wide Bay HHS in Queensland has the highest population aged over 65 years in Australia (21%) and recognizes high rates for all chronic conditions and related risk factors. A rural psychologist position was introduced to the allied health team in 2017 to address health needs across eight rural communities.

Methods: Workforce strategies to ensure the role met local needs included recruiting via a rural development pathway position and related training was included. Various professional supports were accessed to address the psychologist’s learning needs.

Results: The psychology service, focused on supporting clients with chronic conditions, has developed strategies to meet rural client and referrer needs along with the psychologist’s own learning needs. The position provides services via a mixed telehealth and face to face model of care across both inpatient and outpatient clinics. Adaptations to meet best practice guidelines and local service delivery practices were implemented to address distance, client and service needs.

Discussion: Barriers and enablers for rural service implementation will be discussed along with the benefits of including rural generalist training. Aspects specific to the consumer, psychologist and service will be covered within the discussion of this new rural service implementation.


Lisa Baker is the Rural Allied and Community Health team leader with the Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service, based at Gayndah within Queensland’s Wide Bay region. Lisa is a speech pathologist and holds a Masters of Remote Health Management and has been actively involved in rural speech pathology and allied health service provision since 2002.

Frances Lavis is the rural development pathway psychologist with the Rural Allied & Community Health team in Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service. Frances is a clinical psychologist working with clients to support chronic condition management.

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