A conceptual review of engagement in healthcare and rehabilitation

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A conceptual review of engagement in healthcare and rehabilitation
Publication Date: 
June, 2014
Disability and Rehabilitation

Purpose: This review sought to develop an understanding of how engagement in healthcare has been conceptualized in the literature in order to inform future clinical practice and research in rehabilitation. A secondary purpose was to propose a working definition of engagement. 

Methods: EBSCO and SCOPUS databases and reference lists were searched for papers that sought to understand or describe the concept of engagement in healthcare or reported the development of a measure of engagement in healthcare. We drew on a Pragmatic Utility approach to concept analysis. 

Results: Thirty-one articles met the criteria and were included in the review. Engagement appeared to be conceptualized in two inter-connected ways: as a gradual process of connection between the healthcare provider and patient; and as an internal state, which may be accompanied by observable behaviors indicating engagement. Conclusion: Our review suggests engagement to be multi-dimensional, comprising both a co-constructed process and a patient state. While engagement is commonly considered a patient behavior, the review findings suggest clinicians play a pivotal role in patient engagement. This review challenges some understandings of engagement and how we work with patients and highlights conceptual limitations of some measures.

  • Implications for Rehabilitation
  • Engagement appears to be a multi-dimensional construct, comprising both a co-constructed process and a patient state.
  • Conceptualizing engagement as a co-constructed process may help clinicians be more aware of their role in patient engagement and sees the responsibility to engage shift from the patient to the therapeutic dyad.
  • Challenges in engagement may be a prompt to reflect on how the clinician is working and whether different ways of working may be beneficial.

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Disability and Rehabilitation


Disability and Rehabilitation, 1-12. doi: 10.3109/09638288.2014.933899

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