A multicentre study of how goal-setting is practised during inpatient stroke rehabilitation

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To describe goal-setting during inpatient stroke rehabilitation.


There were two stages: an electronic questionnaire for multidisciplinary teams and an analysis of goal-setting documentation for rehabilitation patients.


Five inpatient stroke units.


Staff involved in goal-setting and patients undergoing stroke rehabilitation.


A total of 13 therapists and 49 patients were recruited, and 351 documented goals were examined. All units used therapist-led goal-setting (60% of goals were set by therapists). In total, 72% of goals were patient-focused but patients and families were rarely directly involved. Goals focussed on basic mobility and activities of daily living (~50% and ~25% of goals, respectively). Only 41% of documented goals met the SMART criteria. Review of progress was limited: 48% of goals were never reviewed and 24% of the remainder were merely marked as ‘ongoing’ without a date or plan for completion. New goals and actions were often documented without any connection to previous goals. Integration between goals and treatment/action plans was mixed. In two units, goals were unconnected to a treatment or action plan, but for the remainder it was 90%–100%. However, that connection was generally vague and amounted to suggestions of the type of treatment modality that staff might employ.


Goal-setting during inpatient stroke rehabilitation is therapist-led but discussed with the multidisciplinary team. Therapists mainly identified patient-focussed mobility and activities of daily living goals. Monitoring progress and revising goals were often uncompleted. Links between goals and treatment, action plans and progress were patchy.

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