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Original Research Articles

Training Needs of Community-based Rehabilitation Workers for the Effective Implementation of CBR Programmes


Julia Mary Jansen-van Vuuren ,

International Centre for the Advancement of Community Based Rehabilitation, School of Rehabilitation Therapy, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, CA
About Julia Mary

Julia Jansen-van Vuuren is a Master's student with the Rehabilitation Science program. She is from Australia but grew up and completed her schooling at an international school in Nepal. Julia studied Occupational Therapy at the University of Queensland (Australia) and has worked as a community Occupational Therapist in Brisbane, Australia. She came to Canada to study at Queen’s University with the goal of developing skills and knowledge in rehabilitation in low-income contexts to improve the quality of life for people with disabilities in these countries.

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Heather Michelle Aldersey

School of Rehabilitation Therapy, Queen’s University, 31 George St., Kingston, ON K7L 3N6, CA
About Heather Michelle

Heather M. Aldersey is an assistant professor and Queen’s National scholar at Queen’s University in the School of Rehabilitation Therapy. Her research focuses on promoting the full inclusion of people with disabilities globally, with a particular focus in low- and middle-income countries. She achieves this by studying improved support for people with disabilities and their families, effective implementation of community based rehabilitation programs, and translation of disability policy to practice.

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Purpose: This review investigates the training needs of Community-Based Rehabilitation (CBR) workers that would enable them to effectively facilitate CBR programmes. Emphasis was placed on identifying: (a) the skills that CBR workers require (b) the training currently available for them, and (c) the gaps in current training.

Method: A scoping review was conducted using on-line database searches (Medline, Embase, Cinahl, PsycInfo, Global Health) for English articles from 2006 onwards. A combination of keywords related to CBR, personnel, and training were applied. Hand searches of reference lists and the DCID journal were also conducted. Grey literature related to training, from the World Health Organisation (WHO), CBR Regional Networks and organisations affiliated with CBR were included as secondary data. Thirty-three articles and thirty-five sources from the grey literature were included. Data was organised under the three objectives outlined above – i.e., required skills, available training and training gaps.

Results: CBR workers represent a diverse group requiring a broad range of skills. A new cadre of mid-level workers is also necessary to effectively implement the CBR guidelines. There is currently no standardised training for CBR workers and training varies widely, depending on context. CBR workers require further training in various clinical, social, management, communication, and cultural competence skills across the spectrum of the CBR Matrix, and specifically in empowering persons with disabilities and facilitating community development. They also need to develop critical reasoning, creativity, and compassion.

Conclusion: A standardised approach to training CBR workers would be beneficial to ensure basic standards and quality services, to allow meaningful comparison and evaluation across contexts, to recognise the role of mid-level CBR workers, and to strengthen the workforce. Further research is required to determine minimal competencies, define the roles of various CBR workers, and evaluate the effectiveness of training.

How to Cite: Jansen-van Vuuren, J.M. and Aldersey, H.M., 2019. Training Needs of Community-based Rehabilitation Workers for the Effective Implementation of CBR Programmes. Disability, CBR & Inclusive Development, 29(3), pp.5–31. DOI:
Published on 23 Feb 2019.


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