Identifying and applying psychological theory to setting and achieving rehabilitation goals: development of a practice framework

Lesley Scobbie, Sally Wyke, Diane Dixon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Citations (Scopus)
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Goal setting is considered to be a fundamental part of rehabilitation; however, theories of behaviour change relevant to goal-setting practice have not been comprehensively reviewed. To identify and discuss specific theories of behaviour change relevant to goal-setting practice in the rehabilitation setting. (ii) To identify 'candidate' theories that that offer most potential to inform clinical practice. The rehabilitation and self-management literature was systematically searched to identify review papers or empirical studies that proposed a specific theory of behaviour change relevant to setting and/or achieving goals in a clinical context. Data from included papers were extracted under the headings of: key constructs, clinical application and empirical support. Twenty-four papers were included in the review which proposed a total of five theories: (i) social cognitive theory, (ii) goal setting theory, (iii) health action process approach, (iv) proactive coping theory, and (v) the self-regulatory model of illness behaviour. The first three of these theories demonstrated most potential to inform clinical practice, on the basis of their capacity to inform interventions that resulted in improved patient outcomes. Social cognitive theory, goal setting theory and the health action process approach are theories of behaviour change that can inform clinicians in the process of setting and achieving goals in the rehabilitation setting. Overlapping constructs within these theories have been identified, and can be applied in clinical practice through the development and evaluation of a goal-setting practice framework.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)321-333
Number of pages12
JournalClinical Rehabilitation
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • psychological theory
  • rehabilitation goals
  • practice framework
  • rehabilitation

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