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Rehabilitation in palliative care: a qualitative study of team professionals
  1. Zoe Harding1,
  2. Charlie Hall1,2 and
  3. Anna Lloyd2
  1. 1 School of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  2. 2 Education and Research, St Columba's Hospice, Edinburgh, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Anna Lloyd, Education and Research, St Columba's Hospice, Edinburgh EH5 3RW, UK; alloyd{at}


Objectives There has been a recent drive to embed rehabilitation within palliative care. The concept of rehabilitative palliative care has been advocated to help patients preserve function and independence, through greater patient enablement and self-management. Such an approach requires engagement from all members of the palliative care team. There is a lack of understanding of such viewpoints. The objective of this research was to explore hospice-based palliative care professionals’ understanding and perceptions of rehabilitation.

Methods Qualitative semi-structured interviews were conducted. Eighteen hospice-based healthcare professionals were recruited from a hospice in central Scotland. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed and thematically analysed.

Results Overall, participants clearly articulated the underlying values and benefits of rehabilitative palliative care. Emphasis was placed on ensuring that rehabilitation was appropriately tailored to each individual patient. There was more ambiguity regarding the pragmatic implementation of rehabilitative palliative care, with a number of barriers and facilitators identified.

Conclusions The findings suggest that hospice-based palliative care professionals would be receptive to further implementation of rehabilitative palliative care. A lack of conceptual clarity among palliative care professionals may be a barrier to the effective implementation of rehabilitative palliative care. At an organisational level, this would require clarification of the approach, and additional training involving all members of the multidisciplinary team.

  • rehabilitation
  • quality of life
  • supportive care
  • terminal care
  • cachexia

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request.

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Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request.

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  • Contributors ZH carried out the primary research under the guidance and supervision of AL with further guidance from CH. The initial manuscript was written by ZH with AL and CH reading and contributing to further rewriting and refinements. Preparation of the manuscript for submission was carried out by AL.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests CH was working as a research fellow on the ENeRgy trial NCT03316157 at the time of writing this manuscript.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.