Delivery of a quality improvement program in team-based rehabilitation for patients with rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases: a mixed methods study

Disabil Rehabil. 2024 Apr;46(8):1602-1614. doi: 10.1080/09638288.2023.2204247. Epub 2023 Apr 29.


Purpose: To investigate how a quality improvement program (BRIDGE), designed to promote coordination and continuity in rehabilitation services, was delivered and perceived by providers in routine practice for patients with rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases.

Methods: A convergent mixed methods approach was nested within a stepped-wedge, randomized controlled trial. The intervention program was developed to bridge gaps between secondary and primary healthcare, comprising the following elements: motivational interviewing; patient-specific goal setting; written rehabilitation-plans; personalized feedback on progress; and tailored follow-up. Data from health professionals who delivered the program were collected and analyzed separately, using two questionnaires and three focus groups. Results were integrated during the overall interpretation and discussion.

Results: The program delivery depended on the providers' skills and competence, as well as on contextual factors in their teams and institutions. Suggested possibilities for improvements included follow-up with sufficient support from next of kin and external services, and the practicing of action and coping plans, standardized outcome measures, and feedback on progress.

Conclusions: Leaders and clinicians should discuss efforts to ensure confident and qualified rehabilitation delivery at the levels of individual providers, teams, and institutions, and pay equal attention to each component in the process from admission to follow-up.

Keywords: Quality in healthcare; delivery of healthcare; goal setting; mixed methods; quality improvement; rehabilitation; rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases; self-management.

Plain language summary

Quality in rehabilitation should be characterized by a continuous and coordinated process from goal setting to follow-up.To improve the quality, sufficient involvement of next of kin and external services is needed.Clinicians may need training to build confidence in motivational interviewing, action- and coping planning, feedback on progress, and follow-up.Leaders should organize education sessions, optimize schedules, insert standardized outcome measures, and facilitate collaboration across levels of care and services.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Health Personnel
  • Humans
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases*
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Quality Improvement*