Institutional Variation in Traumatic Brain Injury Acute Rehabilitation Practice
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OBJECTIVE: To describe institutional variation in traumatic brain injury (TBI) inpatient rehabilitation program characteristics and evaluate to what extent patient factors and center effects explain how TBI inpatient rehabilitation services are delivered. DESIGN: Secondary analysis of a prospective, multicenter, cohort database. SETTING: TBI inpatient rehabilitation programs. PARTICIPANTS: Patients with complicated mild, moderate, or severe TBI (N=2130). INTERVENTIONS: Not applicable. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Mean minutes; number of treatment activities; use of groups in occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, therapeutic recreation, and psychology inpatient rehabilitation sessions; and weekly hours of treatment. RESULTS: A wide variation was observed between the 10 TBI programs, including census size, referral flow, payer mix, number of dedicated beds, clinician experience, and patient characteristics. At the centers with the longest weekday therapy sessions, the average session durations were 41.5 to 52.2 minutes. At centers with the shortest weekday sessions, the average session durations were approximately 30 minutes. The centers with the highest mean total weekday hours of occupational, physical, and speech therapies delivered twice as much therapy as the lowest center. Ordinary least-squares regression modeling found that center effects explained substantially more variance than patient factors for duration of therapy sessions, number of activities administered per session, use of group therapy, and amount of psychological services provided. CONCLUSIONS: This study provides preliminary evidence that there is significant institutional variation in rehabilitation practice and that center effects play a stronger role than patient factors in determining how TBI inpatient rehabilitation is delivered.
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