Continuity of rehabilitation services in post-acute care from the ambulatory outpatients' perspective: a qualitative study

J Rehabil Med. 2011 Jan;43(1):58-64. doi: 10.2340/16501977-0638.


Objective: To explore ambulatory outpatient experiences and perceptions in post-acute care settings and how these experiences may have led to perceived gaps in continuity of rehabilitation care.

Subjects: Fifty-seven adults undergoing outpatient rehabilitation for musculoskeletal conditions/injuries, who had had more than 10 physiotherapy treatment sessions.

Methods: Qualitative study using a modified grounded theory approach. Data collection was carried out through 9 focus groups. Each group was recorded, transcribed literally and analyzed thematically.

Results: Participants described 3 main themes in continuity; relational, informational, and management continuity. Several factors that led to gaps in the 3 types of continuity were described. The relevant factors for relational continuity were: consistency of the multi-professional rehabilitation team; and an established provider-patient relationship. Factors for informational continuity were: transfer of information among providers; and accumulated knowledge regarding patients' disability experiences. Factors for management continuity included: consistency of care among rehabilitation providers; flexibility of the team in adapting care to functional changes; and involvement of the team in achieving patient collaboration.

Conclusion: This study provides evidence of gaps in different types of continuity of care within the post-acute rehabilitation services in ambulatory settings. Outpatients often perceive their experiences of rehabilitation care as non-connected or non-coherent over time.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ambulatory Care
  • Continuity of Patient Care*
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / rehabilitation*
  • Outpatients
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Physical Therapy Modalities
  • Professional-Patient Relations
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Wounds and Injuries / rehabilitation*