Rehabilitation service models for people with physical and/or mental disability living in low- and middle-income countries: A systematic review.

Peer-reviewed article
(2018 Jun) J Rehabil Med, 50 487-498


Furlan AD, Irvin E, Munhall C, Giraldo-Prieto M, Fullerton L, McMaster R, Danak S, Costante A, Pitzul K, Bhide RP, Marchenko S, Mahood Q, David JA, Flannery JF, Bayley M



To compare models of rehabilitation services for people with mental and/or physical disability in order to determine optimal models for therapy and interventions in low- to middle-income countries.


CINAHL, EMBASE, MEDLINE, CENTRAL, PsycINFO, Business Source Premier, HINARI, CEBHA and PubMed.


Systematic reviews, randomized control trials and observational studies comparing >2 models of rehabilitation care in any language. Date extraction: Standardized forms were used. Methodological quality was assessed using AMSTAR and quality of evidence was assessed using GRADE.


Twenty-four systematic reviews which included 578 studies and 202,307 participants were selected. In addition, four primary studies were included to complement the gaps in the systematic reviews. The studies were all done at various countries. Moderate- to high-quality evidence supports the following models of rehabilitation services: psychological intervention in primary care settings for people with major depression, admission into an inpatient, multidisciplinary, specialized rehabilitation unit for those with recent onset of a severe disabling condition; outpatient rehabilitation with multidisciplinary care in the community, hospital or home is recommended for less severe conditions; However, a model of rehabilitation service that includes early discharge is not recommended for elderly patients with severe stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, hip fracture and total joints.


Models of rehabilitation care in inpatient, multidisciplinary and specialized rehabilitation units are recommended for the treatment of severe conditions with recent onset, as they reduce mortality and the need for institutionalized care, especially among elderly patients, stroke patients, or those with chronic back pain. Results are expected to be generalizable for brain/spinal cord injury and complex fractures.