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Stroke. 2004 Jan;35(1):127-33. Epub 2003 Dec 11.

Randomized controlled trial of an early discharge rehabilitation service: the Belfast Community Stroke Trial.

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  • 1Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Queen's University Belfast, Belfast, UK.



To compare a community-based multidisciplinary stroke team (CST) approach with hospital-based rehabilitation in terms of hospital stay, functioning, quality of life, and service use and costs.


Stroke patients who met pre-agreed criteria were allocated randomly to the CST service (n=59) or to usual inpatient rehabilitation and follow-up care (n=54). Assessments were completed at randomization and 12 months later. Caregiver strain and satisfaction (n=55) were also assessed. Cost data were collected for a subsample of 38 patients.


Almost 80% of surviving patients (n=691) were discharged home and a small number (n=55) were readmitted. Approximately 17% (113/649) were randomized. There were no statistically significant differences in hospital duration, costs, or outcome measures at baseline and 12 months except for higher satisfaction reported by CST patients. Overall, both groups recorded improvement in most domains over time. Carers reported a high level of satisfaction although the level of strain among carers is cause for concern. The community group (n=18) cost less than the hospital group (n=20).


A mixed model of hospital-based and community-based rehabilitation services is likely to lead to increased patient choice and satisfaction and a potential reduction in bed pressures for less severe stroke patients.

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