Content » Vol 46, Issue 1

Special report

ISPRM discussion paper: Proposing a conceptual description of health-related rehabilitation services

Thorsten Meyer, Christoph Gutenbrunner, Carlotte Kiekens, Dimitrios Skempes, John L. Melvin, Kuno Schedler , Marta Imamura, Gerold Stucki
Hannover Medical School, Integrative Rehabilitation Research Unit, Institute for Epidemiology, Social Medicine and Health Systems Research, OE 5410, Carl-Neuberg-Str. 1, DE-30625 Hannover, Germany. E-mail:
DOI: 10.2340/16501977-1251


There is a need for a comprehensive classification system of health-related rehabilitation services. For conceptual clarity our aim is to provide a health-related conceptual description of the term “rehabilitation service”. First, we introduce a common understanding of the term “rehabilitation”, based on the current definition in the World Health Organization’s World Report on Disability, and a conceptual description of rehabilitation agreed upon by international Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine organizations. From a health perspective, rehabilitation can be regarded as a general health strategy with the aim of enabling persons with health conditions experiencing or likely to experience disability to achieve and maintain optimal functioning. Secondly, we distinguish different meanings of the term “service”, that have originated in management literature. It is important to distinguish between micro, meso and macro level uses of the term “service”. On a meso level, which is central for the classification of rehabilitation services, 2 aspects of a service, i.e. an offer of an intangible product and an organizational setting in which the offer is upheld, are both essential. The results of this conceptual analysis are used to develop a conceptual description of health-related rehabilitation, which is set out at the end of this paper. This conceptual description may provide the basis of a classification of health-related rehabilitation services, and is open for comments and discussion.

Lay Abstract


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