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Spinal Cord. 2007 Apr;45(4):260-74. Epub 2007 Feb 20.

Experience of rehabilitation following spinal cord injury: a meta-synthesis of qualitative findings.



Meta-synthesis of qualitative research.


To identify, compare and synthesize published qualitative evidence concerning the experience of rehabilitation following spinal cord injury (SCI).


Published articles were identified from the Medline, CINAHL and Sociological abstracts databases, a hand search through selected journals published since 1990, and from reference lists. These were assessed for their relevance to the focus of interest and appraised for rigour. The key themes that emerged from the data were summarized, compared and synthesized.


The search located 64 papers and four books, of which eight papers (describing seven studies) met the review criteria for relevance and rigour. Thematic comparison and synthesis resulted in the identification of seven concepts that encapsulate the important dimensions of rehabilitation from participants' perspectives: (1) the importance of specific staff qualities; (2) the need for a vision of future life possibilities; (3) the importance of peers; (4) the relevance of programme content; (5) the institutional context of rehabilitation; (6) the importance of reconnecting the past to the future; (7) the importance of meeting the needs of the real world.


If rehabilitation services are to be evidence-based, relevant and effective in meeting the needs of people with SCI they must be informed by the perspectives of people with SCI. The findings of this review suggest that the most important dimension of rehabilitation for people with SCI is the calibre and vision of the rehabilitation staff.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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