Objective: This paper describes the development of a discrete choice experiment (DCE) questionnaire to identify the factors (attributes) that allied health professionals (AHPs) working with people with disability identify as important to encouraging them to remain practising in rural areas.

Methods: Focus groups and semi-structured interviews were conducted with 97 purposively selected service providers working with people with disability in rural New South Wales, Australia. Focus groups and interviews were digitally recorded, transcribed, and analysed using a modified grounded theory approach involving thematic analysis and constant comparison.

Results: Six attributes that may influence AHPs working with people with disability in rural areas to continue to do so were inductively identified: travel arrangements, work flexibility, professional support, professional development, remuneration, and autonomy of practice. The qualitative research information was combined with a policy review to define these retention factors and ensure that they are amenable to policy changes.

Conclusion: The use of various qualitative research methods allowed the development of a policy-relevant DCE questionnaire that was grounded in the experience of the target population (AHPs).


discrete choice experiment, allied health professionals, preferences, retention, rural, disability