A critical review of Early Supported Discharge for stroke patients: from evidence to implementation into practice


  • Miquel Àngel Mas,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Geriatric Medicine and Palliative Care, Badalona Serveis Assistencials, Badalona, Catalonia, Spain
    2. Universitat Autònoma Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
    • Correspondence: Miquel Àngel Mas, El Carme Intermediate Care Hospital. Camí Sant Jeroni de la Murtra, 60 08917, Badalona, Catalonia, Spain.

      E-mail: mmas7@bsa.cat, Twitter: @MqAgMas

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  • Marco Inzitari

    1. Universitat Autònoma Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
    2. Pere Virgili Hospital, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
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After an acute stroke, a multidimensional approach based on multidisciplinary work and rehabilitation is required in order to promote functional independence and social reinsertion and to maintain medical stability. These activities are usually developed in the hospital setting as a continuum of the acute phase, but hospitalization is resource consuming and resources are limited. Early Support Discharge strategies base postacute care and rehabilitation at home after an early discharge planning and represent possible alternatives to conventional hospitalization. Recent evidence suggests that Early Supported Discharge might be superior to hospitalization from both the clinical-functional and the economic viewpoints. Moreover, home-based rehabilitation might potentiate important determinants of effectiveness, such as patient's motivation and goal-directed rehabilitation. However, hitherto produced evidence and recommendations show a number of limitations related to the organization models, the inclusion/exclusion criteria, and the questionable applicability of results to any healthcare setting worldwide. In this article, we critically review different methodological and organizational aspects of the available studies. For example in the definition of the target population, based mainly on residual disability and medical stability, we suggest that other relevant aspects, such as premorbid functional status, cognitive function, and previous institutionalization, should be better defined. Focusing on the outcomes, we suggest that, besides strong outcomes such as global functioning, surrogate outcomes, such as physical function, could help to refine the specific interventions. Finally, considering that the majority of studies were conducted in northern Europe, further studies are needed to test the implementation of Early Supported Discharge in different regions.