Purpose: To conduct a systematic review to explore the effectiveness of community-based rehabilitation interventions delivered by allied health professionals and/or nursing staff in reducing depression, facilitating participation and improving health-related quality of life (HRQoL) post-inpatient stroke rehabilitation.
Method: A search was conducted in the databases of MEDLINE, PEDro, CINAHL and the Cochrane Library. Publications were classified into categories based on the type of the interventions. Best evidence synthesis and meta-analysis were utilised to determine the level of evidence.
Results: Fifty-four studies were included in the review, and divided into nine broad intervention categories. Meta-analysis demonstrated significant reduction in depression with exercise interventions (n = 137; effect estimate SMD: -2.03, 95%CI: -3.22, -0.85). Community-based interventions targeting participation and leisure domains showed moderate evidence for improvement in global participation measures and HRQoL. Comprehensive rehabilitation demonstrated limited evidence for depression and participation, and strong evidence for HRQoL.
Conclusions: There is limited to moderate evidence supporting some rehabilitation interventions in affecting the outcomes of depression, participation and HRQoL post-stroke. Heterogeneity of the studies made evidence synthesis difficult. Further consideration needs to be given to the type and timing of outcome measures selected to represent the domains of participation and HRQoL.