Does the organization of postacute stroke care really matter?

Peter Langhorne*, Pamela Duncan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

166 Citations (Scopus)


Background and Purpose - Postacute rehabilitation stroke services represent a large component of stroke care. In the United States and elsewhere, major changes in the organization and funding of these services are limiting patient access to organized inpatient multidisciplinary care. We conducted a systematic review to evaluate the effectiveness of such services. Summary of Review - We defined our intervention as organized inpatient multidisciplinary rehabilitation commencing at least 1 week after stroke and sought randomized trials that compared this model of care with an alternative. The analysis was stratified by the particular service characteristics. We identified a heterogeneous group of 9 trials (6 of stroke rehabilitation units; 3 of general rehabilitation wards) recruiting 1437 patients. Organized inpatient multidisciplinary rehabilitation was associated with a reduced odds of death (odds ratio, 0.66; 95% CI, 0.49 to 0.88; P<0.01), death or institutionalization (odds ratio, 0.70; 95% CI, 0.56 to 0.88; P<0.001), and death or dependency (odds ratio, 0.65; 95% CI, 0.50 to 0.85; P<0.001), which was consistent across a variety of trial subgroups. For every 100 patients receiving organized inpatient multidisciplinary rehabilitation, an extra 5 returned home in an independent state. Conclusions - The results indicate that there can be substantial benefit from organized inpatient multidisciplinary rehabilitation in the postacute period, which is both statistically significant and clinically important.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)268-274
Number of pages7
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Meta-analysis
  • Rehabilitation
  • Stroke outcome
  • Stroke units


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