Stroke rehabilitation after hospital discharge: a randomized trial comparing domiciliary and day-hospital care

P Roderick, J Low, R Day, T Peasgood, M A Mullee, J C Turnbull, T Villar, J Raftery
Age and Ageing 2001, 30 (4): 303-10

OBJECTIVES: To compare the effectiveness and costs of a new domiciliary rehabilitation service for elderly stroke patients with geriatric day-hospital care.

DESIGN: Randomized controlled trial.

PARTICIPANTS: Stroke patients aged 55+ who required further rehabilitation after hospital discharge or after referral to geriatricians from the community.

SETTING: Poole area, East Dorset, a mixed urban/rural area on the south coast of England.

MAIN OUTCOMES: Primary-changes between hospital discharge and 6-month follow-up in physical function as measured by Barthel index. Secondary-changes over this period in Rivermead Mobility Index and mental state (Philadelphia Geriatric Centre Morale Scale) and differences in social activity (Frenchay Activities Index) and generic health status (SF-36). Health service and social service cost per patient were compared for the two groups.

RESULTS: 180 patients were eligible and 140 (78%) were randomized. The groups were well balanced for age, sex, social class and initial Barthel index. We achieved follow-up in 88% of subjects who were alive at 6 months. We detected no significant differences in patient outcomes, although there was a non-significant improvement in measures of physical function and social activity in the domiciliary group. Domiciliary patients had more physiotherapy time per session and more district nurse time, and made greater use of social service day centres and home helps. Total cost per patient did not differ significantly between the two groups, with reduced health service costs in the domiciliary arm offset by higher social service costs.

CONCLUSION: No significant differences were detected in the effectiveness of the two services. Neither service influenced patients' mental state, and their social activity remained low. Total costs were similar. A mixed model of day-hospital and domiciliary care may be most cost-effective for community stroke rehabilitation, but this requires further evaluation.

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