The effect of vocational rehabilitation on return-to-work rates post stroke: A systematic review

Authors: Baldwin, C. & Bursco, N. K.
Year Published 2011
Publication Topics in Stroke Rehabilitation
Volume 18
Number 5
Pages 562-572
Publisher Thomas Land Publishers Inc.

Return to work rates for individuals with stroke vary from as low as 4% to 75%. Those who do return to work report higher levels of satisfaction with life. It is important to evaluate the effect of vocational rehabilitation programs on return to work rates of people who have had stroke and are of working age.


The purpose of this review was to investigate the effects on return to work rates of individuals who had strokes and had participated in a vocational rehabilitation program.


This study is a systematic review. The included studies were undertaken in various locations and settings.


The sample included 6 studies involving individuals who had strokes.

Data Collection

Electronic databases and web based sites were searched. The search led to 3,120 articles of which 3,106 were excluded. This left 6 article for inclusion that were published between 1990 and 2008. All were retrospective, single cohort studies. The number of participants within the studies ranged from 23 to 200.


There was no control or comparison condition.


All studies reported work rates after the completion of the vocational rehabilitation program. This ranged from 12% to 49% employment post intervention. How soon the employment rates were collected after the intervention was not reported in five of the six studies reviewed. None of the studies provided follow up data related to employment rates at a later point in time.


Evidence about whether or not vocational rehabilitation programs improve return to work rates for individuals with stroke is inconclusive. Quality randomized controlled trials are needed. Within the literature there is much variation in the definitions of employment, return to work and vocational rehabilitation.

Outcomes Employment acquisition | Return to work
Research Design Systematic reviews and meta-analysis
Peer Reviewed Yes