What is geriatric rehabilitation and how should it be organized? A Delphi study aimed at reaching European consensus

Romke van Balen*, Adam L. Gordon, Jos M. G. A. Schols, Yvonne M. Drewes, Wilco P. Achterberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Purpose Many European countries have developed services to rehabilitate the increasing number of older people who experience an acute or subacute decrease in function after a medical event such as a hip fracture or stroke. However, there are important differences between countries regarding patient selection, organization of services, length of stay, and content of the rehabilitation process. The lack of consensus around, and quality criteria for, geriatric rehabilitation limits opportunities for exchange of best practice and scientific research. Methods 33 experts, mostly geriatricians with experience in geriatric rehabilitation, from 18 European countries were invited to participate in a modified Delphi study. They were asked to react to 68 statements using a five-point Likert scale. The statements were formulated on the basis of literature review and practice experience, and were initially piloted among Dutch elderly care physicians. Consensus was defined beforehand as an Interquartile Range (IQR) of Results Consensus was reached on 61 (90%) statements after two rounds. The resulting consensus covers: the need for a multidisciplinary approach to Geriatric Rehabilitation after CGA; inclusion of patients with temporary confusion or cognitive decline; use of structured goal-oriented rehabilitation plans; the necessity of an early start of rehabilitation; preference for ambulatory rehabilitation or Geriatric Rehabilitation at home; the advantage of protocolled treatment programs; the need for consensus on patient outcome assessment instruments; and education and training in Geriatric Rehabilitation for healthcare professionals. Conclusion These consensus statements provide a first step towards more coherent organization and delivery of geriatric rehabilitation across Europe.

Key summary pointsAim To reach European Consensus on Geriatric Rehabilitation using a modified Delphi Procedure. Findings Consensus was reached on 61 statements on a broad range of topics. Message This consensus is important to facilitate exchange of best practice and compare results of scientific research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)977-987
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Geriatric Medicine
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019


  • Geriatric rehabilitation
  • European consensus
  • Delphi procedure
  • CARE


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