Background Patients with rheumatic autoimmune diseases are often offered rehabilitation services by a multidisciplinary team including for example rheumatologists, nurses, dieticians, psychologists, occupational therapists (OTs), physiotherapists (PTs) and social workers (SWs). The collaboration between the team members can be challenging as professional groups may not agree about what should be emphasized or how it is best approached. Presently, we wanted to examine differences or overlaps between the rehabilitation needs identified by OTs, PTs and SWs in a clinical setting.
Objectives To examine the characteristics of patients referred to OTs, PTs, and SWs and the rehabilitation needs that the health professional groups identified.
Methods Consecutive hospitalized patients at a rehabilitation unit at a rheumatism hospital were recruited by the health professionals at their first encounter with the patients. They filled in a standardized questionnaire about their patients' characteristics, as well as open-ended responses to questions about what each patient said they wanted to improve, what the health professional considered needed to be emphasized and how to approach it. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze patient characteristics, and the health professionals free-text responses about rehabilitation needs were coded by the WHO's International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health (ICF).
Results The patients were rather heterogeneous; their age varied from 20 to 89 years, disease duration varied from being newly diagnosed to have had diagnosis for 54 years, they were classified within all four categories of disability levels according to the ACR Classification of Functioning scale, they could have common and rather rare rheumatic diagnoses, and several patients had comorbidities. Together the health professional groups identified rehabilitation needs were classified within all three components of the ICF. Within the Body Function component the needs fell mostly under Chapter 7: Neuromusculoskeletal and Movement-Related Functions (OTs and PTs) and Chapter 2: Sensory Functions and Pain (PTs). Within the Activity and Participation component, needs were mostly under Chapter 2: General Tasks and Demands (OTs), Chapter 4: Mobility (OTs), Chapter 5: Self-Care (PTs), and Chapter 8: Major Life Areas (SWs). For the Environmental Factor component, all needs were classified under Chapter 1: Products of Technology (OTs) and Chapter 5: Services, Systems, and Politics (SWs).
Conclusions The patients were heterogeneous with respect to personal characteristics, diagnoses, and disability levels. The most prominent concerns met by the health professionals were pain, joint and muscle function, self-care in carrying out daily routines and health promotion activities, and work-related issues. Both OTs and PTs identified rehabilitation needs classified as muscle power function, otherwise there were distinctive differences between the health professional groups.
Acknowledgements Thanks to the health professionals for taking the time to collect data from their clinical practice.
Disclosure of Interest None declared