Patient perspectives of recovery following major musculoskeletal trauma: A systematic review and qualitative synthesis

Sarah Norris*, Laura Graham, Lynne Wilkinson, Sinead Savory, Lisa Robinson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Improved survival following major trauma has resulted in an increased number of patients with complex physical, functional and psychosocial needs requiring specialist multidisciplinary rehabilitation. A key challenge in modern trauma care is to deliver rehabilitation interventions that translate into improved outcomes. This study aimed to synthesise patient perceptions of recovery following major musculoskeletal trauma.
A pre-planned literature search (CINAHL, Medline, Embase, PsychInfo, and other sources) was performed 28/02/22–03/03/22 (updated 29/3/23–17/4/23 prior to submission) to capture all available qualitative or mixed methods studies describing major musculoskeletal trauma recovery from the patient perspective. Quality assessment was performed using the Joanna Briggs evaluation tool and the mixed methods appraisal tool. The qualitative data was thematically analysed.
Of 5648 distinct studies, 18 studies met the criteria for inclusion totalling 637 participants. Thematic analysis of the qualitative data found that recovery following major musculoskeletal trauma has physical, psychological and socio-functional dimensions. Successful recovery involves ‘crafting a new normal’ and is both a process and an outcome. Three major themes were identified: vulnerability; learning to manage; adaptation and adjustment. Patients do not experience each theme in a linear way; instead, they move through the recovery process in an individualised and cyclical manner.
This review highlights the individual experience of recovery, which requires flexible and holistic care to facilitate an occupational (or socio-functional) perspective on major musculoskeletal trauma recovery. Therefore, organisationally, an effective multi-disciplinary team model of care is essential to support survival as a long-term condition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
Early online date15 Nov 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Nov 2023

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