BACKGROUND: Current evidence demonstrates that few patients complete anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction rehabilitation according to evidence-based guidelines. It is important to investigate the viewpoints of our patients to identify patient-reported barriers and facilitators of anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction rehabilitation. Qualitative analysis can provide insight into potential methods for improving the delivery of rehabilitation services.
METHODS: In this qualitative study, utilising a social constructionism orientation, viewed through the social phenomenological lens, three focus groups were conducted with individuals 1-20 years post anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (n = 20, 9 males, 11 females, mean 6.5 years post-surgery, 19-51 years old). Utilising a semi-structured interview guide, participants were asked about their experiences during anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction rehabilitation. Focus groups were recorded, transcribed, and coded using an inductive semantic thematic analysis methodology.
RESULTS: Five organising themes were identified (consisting of 19 sub-themes) to provide a framework to present the data: psychological, physiological, rehabilitation service, rehabilitation characteristics, and interaction with others. Each theme details aspects of rehabilitation, such as exercise delivery, informational support, frequency, and duration of care, kinesiophobia, weight management and interactions with teams and coaches, which present barriers or facilitators for patients to adhere to and participate in rehabilitation. Example quotes are provided for each theme to provide context and the patient's voice.
CONCLUSIONS: This qualitative investigation identified key aspects of a patient's rehabilitation in which they encounter a variety of barriers and facilitators of ACL reconstruction rehabilitation. These aspects, such as the rehabilitation characteristics, service delivery, psychological and physiological factors, and interactions with others, were consistently identified by this cohort as factors which affected their rehabilitation. The themes may provide targets for clinicians to improve rehabilitation and deliver patient-centred care. However, the themes must be evaluated in future trials to assess whether interventions to remove barriers or enhance facilitators improves subsequent outcomes such as return to sport and re-injury rates.