Setting meaningful goals in rehabilitation: A qualitative study on the experiences of clients and clinicians in working with a practical tool

Elsbeth Littooij, Suzan Doodeman, Jasmijn Holla, Maaike Ouwerkerk, Lenneke Post, Ton Satink, Anne Marie ter Steeg, Judith Vloothuis, Joost Dekker, Vincent de Groot

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To evaluate the experience of clients and clinicians in working with a tool to help set goals that are personally meaningful to rehabilitation clients. Design: We have applied the tool in the outpatient rehabilitation setting. Clients’ and clinicians’ experiences in working with the tool were evaluated in individual, semi-structured interviews and focus group interviews, respectively. Thematic analysis was used to analyze the data. Setting: A university medical center and a rehabilitation center. Subjects: Clients with a first-time stroke (n = 8) or multiple sclerosis (n = 10), and clinicians (n = 38). Intervention: The tool to help set meaningful goals consisted of a session (i) to explore the client's fundamental beliefs, goals and attitudes and (ii) to identify a meaningful overall rehabilitation goal. The results of that session were used by the multidisciplinary rehabilitation team (iii) to help the client to set specific rehabilitation goals that served to achieve the meaningful overall rehabilitation goal. Results: Both clients and clinicians reported that the tool helped to set a meaningful overall rehabilitation goal and specific goals that became meaningful as they served to achieve the overall goal. This contributed to clients’ intrinsic rehabilitation motivation. In some clients, the meaningfulness of the rehabilitation goals facilitated the process of behavior change. Both clients and clinicians made suggestions on how the tool could be further improved. Conclusion: In the opinion of both clients and clinicians, the tool does indeed result in goal setting that is personally meaningful. Further development, implementation and evaluation of the tool is warranted.
Original languageEnglish
JournalClinical rehabilitation
Early online date2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2021


  • Goal-setting
  • behavior change
  • meaning
  • motivation
  • rehabilitation

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