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muscle spasticity, health services accessibility, rural health, urban health, professional competence
Objective: Spasticity often initially presents to family physicians, however clinicians with spasticity management expertise can manage it best. The purpose of this study was to quantify family physician spasticity health literacy, as well as compare spasticity resource availability between rural and urban areas to determine whether these factors are barriers to patients accessing higher-level spasticity care. Methods: This study was a cross-sectional survey, mailed to 500 rural and 500 urban Ontario family physicians. Results: Out of 1000, 99 completed questionnaires were returned; 56 from rural and 43 from urban physicians. Only 23.7% respondents correctly identified the definition of spasticity, and 49.0% felt adequately trained to recognize spasticity. Urban family physicians reported significantly higher availability of spasticity resources (support groups, occupational therapy, and physicians and surgeons with expertise in managing spasticity) while rural family physicians reported significantly higher problems with the availability of spasticity resources (p<0.05). Discussion: This study found that family physicians have low spasticity health literacy. Also, spasticity resource availability is significantly higher for urban family physicians than rural ones. Ultimately, these factors may present a barrier to many patients affected by spasticity to accessing appropriate higher-level spasticity care.