Background: There is a global demand for rehabilitation services but to date little attention has been paid to rehabilitation as part of the health agenda, especially in low- and middle-income countries. The objective of the scoping review was to get an overview of the needs and unmet needs for rehabilitation services described in the literature.
Materials and methods: Electronic search was performed in PubMed and REHABDATA for studies published between 2000 and 2017.
Results: Eighty-six articles met the inclusion criteria. Results revealed a profound need for rehabilitation among different user groups with non-communicable diseases and injuries across countries. However, this need considerably outstripped the provision of services, which left many people with substantial unmet needs for rehabilitation. The main reasons for the unmet needs for rehabilitation were the absence of or unequal geographical distribution of services within a country, lack of transportation, and unaffordability of the services.
Conclusions: There are substantial unmet needs for rehabilitation and numerous barriers to accessing services. Efforts need to focus on building the capacity for rehabilitation research predominantly in low- and middle-income countries. The comprehensive data that this review provides is useful for raising awareness for the need of rehabilitation at policy level. Implications for rehabilitation There is a profound need for rehabilitation services due to the ageing population and growing prevalence of non-communicable diseases. This scoping review shows that the need for rehabilitation considerably outstrips the provision of services. There are substantial unmet needs for rehabilitation and numerous barriers to accessing services. Concerted global action to scale up quality rehabilitation services is needed, especially in low- and middle-income countries.
Keywords: Rehabilitation; needs; scoping review; unmet needs.