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Clin Rehabil. 2009 Apr;23(4):352-61. doi: 10.1177/0269215508101741. Epub 2009 Feb 23.

Writing SMART rehabilitation goals and achieving goal attainment scaling: a practical guide.

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Oxford Brookes University and Oxford Centre for Enablement, Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, Oxford, UK.

Erratum in

  • Clin Rehabil. 2010 Apr;24(4):382.



To describe a practical method of setting personalized but specific goals in rehabilitation that also facilitates the use of goal attainment scaling.


Rehabilitation is a complex intervention requiring coordinated actions by a team, a process that depends upon setting interdisciplinary goals that are specific, clear and personal to the patient. Goal setting can take much time and still be vague. A practical and standardized method is needed for being specific.


A novel approach to writing specific, measurable, achievable, realistic/ relevant and timed (SMART) goals is developed here. Each goal can be built up by using up to four parts: the target activity, the support needed, quantification of performance and the time period to achieve the desired state. This method can be employed as part of goal attainment scaling and the other levels can be easily and quickly formulated by adding, deleting and/or changing one or more of the (sub)parts.


The success of goal setting and goal attainment scaling depends on the formulation of the goals. The method described here is a useful tool to standardize the writing of goals in rehabilitation. It saves time and simplifies the construction of goals that are sufficiently specific to be measurable.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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