Purpose: To conduct a systematic literature review that identifies and summarises the findings of studies that have compared the outcomes of outpatient, brain injury rehabilitation programmes conducted in real-life home settings and day hospital clinic settings.
Method: A systematic search, using specific inclusion and exclusion criteria, of English language electronic databases, as well as manual search of reference lists of identified articles. Each study was evaluated and rated using 11 methodological criteria. The findings are summarised.
Results: Database searches, using key terms, initially yielded 4484 articles. Of these articles, 17 articles were included in the review and rated according to methodological quality. The majority of studies indicated that the outcomes of rehabilitation programmes conducted in home settings are at least equivalent to rehabilitation conducted in day hospital and outpatient settings for people with acquired brain injury. Most identified studies (15/17) were with groups of people with a diagnosis of stroke, primarily over the age of 65 years. Assessments of impairment or activity limitation were primarily used to reflect outcomes and no studies used participation or goal-based outcome measures.
Conclusions: The available studies indicate that outcomes of outpatient rehabilitation programmes delivered at home, of short-term duration (mostly 3 months) for people with stroke recently discharged from hospital, are at least equivalent to day hospital-based outpatient rehabilitation programme outcomes. However, there have been no controlled studies designed to investigate the influence of therapy context (home and clinic settings) on outcomes for people receiving outpatient neurological rehabilitation. Furthermore, investigations of the efficacy of community-based rehabilitation with younger people with brain injuries, caused by mechanisms other than stroke, are required.