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Living Well: How Effective Is Rehabilitation?

Reprinted from PN September 2001
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How do rehabilitation facilities evaluate the quality of care they provide? What measures do researchers use to study which rehab procedures are most effective?

Rehabilitation outcomes often provide answers to these questions. For example, when patients are admitted and discharged, therapists routinely record the amount of help the individuals need to complete functional activities. The change in function is a rehabilitation outcome.

One problem with current rehabilitation-outcome measures is their narrow focus on activities of daily living. In addition, the design of current rehabilitation-outcome measures limits their use to one treatment setting.

In 1999, the U.S. Department of Education's National Institute for Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) established the Center for Measuring Rehabilitation Outcomes, at Boston University?s Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. The center's mission is to improve the effectiveness of rehabilitation by improving the quality and use of rehabilitation-outcome measures.

The center's researchers developed a new system for measuring rehabilitation outcomes and are testing it in rehab facilities. In developing this new outcome measure, researchers met with consumers to discuss which test items to include. As a result, the new measure provides a broader perspective for rehabilitation with a strong consumer focus. Researchers also designed the new outcome measure so it can be used as patients move to different treatment settings.

The lack of a common language for discussing and comparing rehabilitation outcomes is another barrier to sharing this information with consumers. One way to improve the quality of rehab care is to improve communication between providers and consumers about rehabilitation-outcome measures. To bridge the gap, providers should seek consumer input and incorporate their viewpoint when they examine rehabilitation outcomes. Consumers should become more knowledgeable about rehabilitation outcomes and how they are used. This article is a start.

To learn more about rehabilitation-outcomes measures and the Center for Measuring Rehabilitation Outcomes, visit www.bu.edu/cre or write to CRE-Center for Measuring Rehabilitation Outcomes, Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, 635 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston University, Boston, MA 02215.



Mary Slavin, Ph.D., is director of Training and Dissemination, CRE-Center for Measuring Rehabilitation Outcomes, Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Boston University.

 

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Living Well: How Effective Is Rehabilitation?

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