Physical Therapy Publications


Advancing Rehabilitation Research: An Interactionist Perspective to Guide Question and Design

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Disability & Rehabilitation





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The purpose of this position statement is to propose an interactionist framework to bring together the existing literature and provide a unifying direction for rehabilitation research. The framework comprises three components: the conceptual model, the research question, and the research design. The interactionist conceptual model has been adapted from the World Health Organization International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health. The model forms the starting point that guides the specification of the research question, which, in turn, guides the selection of research design. This approach demands that the question takes precedence and that there be an extensive repertoire of research designs, each of which is valued for its 'goodness-of-fit' with the question, rather than an a priori, single hierarchical ordering of designs. Research designs must be appropriate for questions that examine the disability experience, development over the lifespan, multifaceted interventions, low incidence conditions, and development of new interventions. Analytical challenges include dealing with confounding, mediating, and moderating variables. Rehabilitation researchers--and those who fund their work--should consider and value the use of diverse research methods to best answer the questions posed from the interactionist perspective.