Measuring patient change during rehabilitation- the responsiveness of a standard set of outcome measures

Dr Margie Schache1, Dr Amanda Timmer1, Professor Carolyn Unsworth2

1Ramsay Health Care, Donvale Rehabilitation Hospital, Donvale, Australia, 2School of Health, Federation University, Gippsland Campus, Australia

Introduction: Outcome measure data are routinely collected in rehabilitation and used to track patient progress over time. However, often there is no easily accessible, universally applicable, psychometrically sound, and clinically useful outcome measure tool that can be used across all patients. This limits the services’ ability to measure treatment effectiveness, investigate treatment cost efficiency, and identify areas for quality improvement and research.

Purpose: Examine the responsiveness of a standard set of outcome measures to determine patient change during rehabilitation and confirm inclusion in a national outcome measure data set.

Method: Pre/post cohort study of patients admitted for inpatient or day rehabilitation at a private rehabilitation hospital in Melbourne, Australia.  A standard set of outcome measures was administered at admission and discharge as part of routine clinical care.

Results: Over a 6-month period, data were collected from 724 inpatients and 253 day rehabilitation patients across eight clinical programs using 18 outcome measures.  The results indicated that 14 outcome measures demonstrated acceptable to good responsiveness and clinical utility and are suitable for ongoing use in rehabilitation settings.  The remaining four measures require further data collection and testing but may be suitable to use with specific rehabilitation populations.

Conclusion: Research confirms outcome measures can be used to collect patient-reported and clinician-reported outcome data to demonstrate change as a result of participation in rehabilitation.  These measures capture outcomes across health domains that matter to patients and their families and can be used in quality improvements in the delivery of rehabilitation services.


Margie has worked as a physiotherapist for 25 years in the field of rehabilitation.  She completed her PhD in 2019 and has continued to champion research projects at Donvale Rehabilitation with her colleague Amanda Timmer.

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