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Vol. 21. Num. 2.
Pages 77-152 (01 March 2017)
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Vol. 21. Num. 2.
Pages 77-152 (01 March 2017)
Original Research
DOI: 10.1016/j.bjpt.2017.03.002
Continuity of care in hospital rehabilitation services: a qualitative insight from inpatients’ experience
Francesc Medina-Mirapeixa, Silvana L. Oliveira-Sousab,
Corresponding author

Corresponding author at: Departamento de Ciencias de la Salud, Fisioterapia, Universidad Católica de Murcia, 30107 Campus de Los Jerónimos, Murcia, Spain.
, Pilar Escolar-Reinaa, Marta Sobral-Ferreirac, M. Carmen Lillo-Navarrod, Sean M. Collinse
a Department of Physical Therapy, University of Murcia, Murcia, Spain
b Department of Health Sciences, Catholic University San Antonio, Murcia, Spain
c Department of Physical Therapy, Monte Tabor – São Rafael Hospital, Salvador, BA, Brazil
d Department of Pathology and Surgery, University Miguel Hernández, Elche, Spain
e Department of Physical Therapy, Plymouth State University, Plymouth, NH, USA

  • Continuity of care is a multidimensional construct.

  • Three types of continuity are relevant for inpatients receiving rehabilitation.

  • Management continuity is the component with the most negative experiences.

  • Most problems experienced by the participants are aspects that can be modified.

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Tables (2)
Table 1. Personal characteristics of participants.
Table 2. Summary of themes for each type of experienced continuity of care and their categories.
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Few empirical studies have been conducted on the continuity of rehabilitation services, despite the fact that it may affect clinical outcomes, patient satisfaction, the perception of quality, and safety.


The aim of this study was to explore experiences and perceptions of inpatients receiving physical rehabilitation in an acute care hospital and how these experiences may have led to perceived gaps in the continuity of rehabilitation care.


Using qualitative research methods, fifteen semi-structured interviews were conducted with patients who received physical rehabilitation during hospital stay in an acute care hospital in Murcia, Spain. Interviews were transcribed verbatim, analyzed, and grouped into predetermined and emergent codes.


Patients described three main themes in continuity of care: informational, management, and relational continuity. Several factors were described as influencing the perceived gaps in these three types of continuity. Informational continuity was influenced by the transfer of information among care providers. Relational continuity was influenced by patient–therapist relations and consistency on the part of the provider. Management continuity was influenced by consistency of care between providers and the involvement of patients in their own care.


The participants in this study identified several gaps in three types of continuity of care (informational, management, and relational). Inpatients often perceive their experiences of rehabilitation as being disconnected or incoherent over time.

Continuity of care
Qualitative research
Physical therapy
Quality of care


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