Process evaluation of an integrated care pathway in geriatric rehabilitation for people with complex health problems

Irma H. J. Everink*, Jolanda C. M. van Haastregt, Jose M. C. Maessen, Jos M. G. A. Schols, Gertrudis I. J. M. Kempen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: An integrated care pathway in geriatric rehabilitation was developed to improve coordination and continuity of care for community-living older adults in the Netherlands, who go through the process of hospital admission, admission to a geriatric rehabilitation facility and discharge back to the home situation. This pathway is a complex intervention and is focused on improving communication, triage and transfers of patients between the hospital, geriatric rehabilitation facility and primary care organisations. A process evaluation was performed to assess the feasibility of this pathway.

Methods: The study design incorporated mixed methods. Feasibility was assessed thru if the pathway was implemented according to plan (fidelity and dose delivered), (b) if patients, informal caregivers and professionals were satisfied with the pathway (dose received) and (c) which barriers and facilitators influenced implementation (context). These components were derived from the theoretical framework of Saunders and colleagues. Data were collected using three structured face-to-face interviews with patients, self-administered questionnaires among informal caregivers, and group interviews with professionals. Furthermore, data were collected from the information transfer system in the hospital, patient files of the geriatric rehabilitation facility and minutes of evaluation meetings.

Results: In total, 113 patients, 37 informal caregivers and 19 healthcare professionals participated in this process evaluation. The pathway was considered largely feasible as two components were fully implemented according to plan and two components were largely implemented according to plan. The timing and quality of medical discharge summaries were not sufficiently implemented according to plan and professionals indicated that the triage instrument needed refinement. Healthcare professionals were satisfied with the implementation of the pathway and they indicated that due to improved collaboration, the quality of care provision improved. Although patients and informal caregivers were also satisfied with the care provision in the pathway, they indicated that the care organisations involved should pay more attention towards providing information about their treatment.

Conclusions: This process evaluation showed that patients, informal caregivers and professionals are fairly satisfied with the care provision in the pathway and professionals reported that collaboration improved. Extra attention should be paid to the components in the pathway that were not implemented according to plan.

Original languageEnglish
Article number34
Number of pages12
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jan 2017


  • Integrated care pathway
  • Continuity of patient care
  • Implementation
  • Process evaluation
  • Geriatric rehabilitation
  • Patient transfer
  • Feasibility studies

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