Delivering Rehabilitation Care Around the World: Voices From the Field



Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Publication Title

Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation




Capacity building, Continuing education, Credentialing, Developing countries, Disability evaluation, Disabled persons, Epidemiology, Global health, Health personnel, Health services for persons with disabilities, Health workforce, Interprofessional education, Occupational Therapy, Patient care, Physical medicine and rehabilitation, Physical therapy specialty, Professional competence, Public health, Quality of life, Rehabilitation, Rehabilitation nursing, Speech-language pathology, Sustainable development


Objectives: To identify the challenges and common issues that the rehabilitation health workforce experienced in delivering services in different practice settings across the world. These experiences could suggest approaches to improving rehabilitation care to people in need. Design: A semi-structured interview protocol centering on 3 broad research questions was conducted to collect data. The data were analyzed to identify common themes across the cohort interviewed. Setting: Interviews were conducted using Zoom. Interviewees not able to access Zoom provided written responses to the questions. Participants: Participants included 30 key rehabilitation opinion leaders from different disciplines from 24 countries, across world regions and income levels (N=30). Interventions: NA. Main Outcome Measures: Although rehabilitation care deficiencies differ in severity, participants reported that the demand for services consistently outstrips available care, regardless of world region or income level. Access and social barriers, particularly in rural areas and remote regions, are common challenges for those delivering and receiving rehabilitation care. Results: Individual voices from the field reported both challenges and hopeful changes in making rehabilitation services available and accessible. Conclusions: The descriptive approach undertaken has allowed individual voices, rarely included in studies, to be highlighted as meaningful data. Although the research findings are not generalizable beyond the convenience cohort included without further analysis and validation in specific local practice contexts, the authentic voices that spoke out on these issues demonstrated common themes of frustration with the current state of rehabilitation services delivery but also hopefulness that more solutions are on the horizon.

Open Access