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Disabil Rehabil. 2014;36(12):1020-6. doi: 10.3109/09638288.2013.825653. Epub 2013 Aug 20.

Survival, momentum, and things that make me "me": patients' perceptions of goal setting after stroke.

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Rehabilitation Teaching and Research Unit, Department of Medicine, University of Otago , Wellington , New Zealand .



Goal setting and patient-centredness are considered fundamental concepts in rehabilitation. However, the best way to involve patients in setting goals remains unclear. The purpose of this study was to explore patient experiences of goal setting in post-acute stroke rehabilitation to further understanding of its application to practice.


Thematic analysis was used to analyse interview transcripts from 10 stroke survivors, recruited from 4 rehabilitation units as part of a pilot study investigating the effects of a structured means of eliciting patient-centred goals in post-acute stroke rehabilitation.


Three key themes emerged: (1) "A Day by Day Momentum", comprising subordinate themes of "Unpredictability" and "Natural Progression" in which daily progress forwards was seen as an integral part of rehabilitation; (2) "Battle versus Alliance" in which issues of struggle versus support influenced participants' advancement; and (3) "The Special Things", consisting of subordinate themes of "What Makes Me 'Me'" and "Symbolic Achievements" concerning issues defining individuals and their rehabilitation experiences.


Patients' discourse around goal setting can differ from the discourse conventionally used by clinicians when describing "best practice" in rehabilitation goal setting. Understanding patients' non-conventional views of goals may assist in supporting and motivating them, thus providing drive for their rehabilitation.


Stroke patients think about goals very differently from health professionals. Individual patients have diverse ideas about goals within the context of the uncertainty of stroke, their life as a whole and recovery after formal rehabilitation is completed. To meet these diverse needs, health professionals need to communicate fully with patients to gain an understanding of their experiences of stroke and wider views on goals.


Goal setting; motivation; patient perceptions; stroke

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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