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    Rehabilitation following rotator cuff repair : a nested qualitative study exploring the perceptions and experiences of participants in a randomised controlled trial

    Stephens, Gareth, Littlewood, Christopher ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7703-727X, Foster, Nadine E and Dikomitis, Lisa (2021) Rehabilitation following rotator cuff repair : a nested qualitative study exploring the perceptions and experiences of participants in a randomised controlled trial. Clinical Rehabilitation, 35 (6). pp. 911-919. ISSN 0269-2155

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    Abstract

    Objective: To investigate acceptability, barriers to adherence with the interventions, and which outcome measures best reflect the participants’ rehabilitation goals in a pilot and feasibility randomised controlled trial evaluating early patient-directed rehabilitation and standard rehabilitation, including sling immobilisation for four weeks, following surgical repair of the rotator cuff of the shoulder. Design: Nested qualitative study. Setting: Five English National Health Service Hospitals. Subjects: Nineteen patient participants who had undergone surgical repair of the rotator cuff and 10 healthcare practitioners involved in the trial. Method: Individual semi-structured interviews. Data were analysed thematically. Results: Four themes: (1) Preconceptions of early mobilisation; many participants were motivated to enter the trial for the opportunity of removing their sling and getting moving early. (2) Sling use and movement restrictions; for some, sling use for four weeks was unacceptable and contributed to their pain, rather than relieving it. (3) Tensions associated with early mobilisation; clinical tensions regarding early mobilisation and the perceived risk to the surgical repair were apparent. (4) Processes of running the trial; participants found the trial processes to be largely appropriate and acceptable, but withholding the results of the post-operative research ultrasound scan was contentious. Conclusion: Trial processes were largely acceptable, except for withholding results of the ultrasound scan. For some participants, use of the shoulder sling for a prolonged period after surgery was a reported barrier to standard rehabilitation whereas the concept of early mobilisation contributed tension for some healthcare practitioners due to concern about the effect on the surgical repair.

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