Rehabilitation Nursing Research Agenda

The Rehabilitation Nursing Research Agenda was revised in 2019 by the ARN Research Committee.

Rehabilitation Nursing Research Agenda Contents

The agenda focuses on seven areas and includes brief descriptions of the high-priority research issues for each area:

  • 1. Nursing and nursing-led interdisciplinary assessments, evaluations, interventions, and outcomes to promote function in people of all ages with disability and/or chronic health problems

    • 1.1. Interventions promoting management of physiologic processes including, but not limited to, bowel, bladder, and skin care
      1.2. Interventions supporting behavior management to promote health and independence and/or improve quality of life in individuals and their families
      1.3. Interventions promoting sexual health based on the individual’s values, beliefs, and developmental stage
      1.4. Symptom management/symptom science
      1.4.1. Interventions improving assessment and management of acute or chronic pain/health problems
      1.4.2. Interventions addressing psychological needs of individuals living with disabilities and/or chronic health problems
      1.5. Interventions supporting community reentry and/or reintegration for individuals with disabilities and/or chronic health problems
      1.6. Interventions fostering successful aging with disability and/or chronic health problems, including chronic pain
      1.7. Interventions promoting environmental access, safety, and function
      1.8. Interventions using technology to improve independence and quality of life
      1.9. Interventions promoting use of inter-professional teams to promote health/improve quality of life in individuals & their families
      1.10. Interventions into specific rehabilitation settings
      1.11. Interventions focused on individual education to enhance independence and wellness
      1.12. Interventions focused on patient/family centered care and/or patient/family engagement/education in healthcare decision making
      1.13. Interventions focused on assessment and enhancement of health literacy among individuals and their families
      1.14. Interventions focused on transcultural approaches to enhance independence and promote health
      1.15. Interventions focused on post-discharge education and/or care to promote function and quality of life
      1.16. Specific population-focused interventions such as, but not limited to, gerontology, military, pediatrics, oncology, and orthopedics
      1.17. Interventions focused on technology and advanced therapies
  • 2. Experience of disability and/or chronic health problems for individuals and families across the lifespan

    • 2.1. Experience and meaning of independence for diverse individuals with disabilities and/or chronic health issues
      2.2. Response of diverse families to alterations in independence and disability and/or chronic health problems
      2.3. Experience and meaning of accessibility as it relates to diverse individuals, families, and communities
      2.4. Influence of caregivers of persons with disabilities and/or chronic health problems such as maintenance of function and quality of life
      2.5. Experience and meaning of healthy lifestyles and/or health aging as it relates to disabilities and/or chronic health problems
  • 3. The environment of care in rehabilitation

    • 3.1. Examination of effective care transition processes
      3.2. Effectiveness of rehabilitation programs with respect to individual and/or family outcomes across the continuum of care
      3.3. The impact of changes to the healthcare system and healthcare funding, such as, but not limited to, alternative payment models, bundling, and accountability of rehabilitation nursing services on outcomes
      3.4. The impact of nurse staffing and patient acuity on the type, intensity, and duration of the rehabilitation nursing services delivered
      3.5. The impact of legislation and funding on access to inpatient/outpatient rehabilitation programs and patient outcomes
  • 4. The specialty of rehabilitation nursing

    • 4.1. Ethical issues related to the practice of rehabilitation nursing
      4.2. The effect of changing healthcare priorities on the practice of rehabilitation nursing
      4.3. The contributions and the cost of rehabilitation nurses as components of the rehabilitation process
      4.4. The effects of rehabilitation nursing practice models, advanced practice nursing, and nurses’ competency levels on individual outcomes in various healthcare environments
      4.5. Education and training needs for nurses specializing in rehabilitation
  • 5. Nursing and outcomes evaluation

    • 5.1. The impact of the nurse on individual/population outcomes
      5.2. The impact of the Certified Rehabilitation Registered Nurse (CRRN) on individual/population outcomes
      5.3. The impact of nurse education in individual/population outcomes
      5.4. The impact of the advanced practice nurse on individual/population outcomes
      5.5. The impact of setting and implementation of mutually agreed upon patient and provider goals on outcomes
      5.6. The impact of rehabilitation setting on individual/population outcomes
      5.7. Evaluation of the integration of outcomes measurement into rehabilitation nursing
  • 6. Nursing and evidence-based practice

    • 6.1. Evaluation of the integration of the best and latest quality appraised evidence into rehabilitation nursing practice in terms of feasibility, cost effectiveness, timing, outcomes, and sustainability
      6.2. Evaluation of the implementation of National Academy of Medicine guidelines in the rehabilitation setting
  • 7. Issues of quality and process improvement

    • 7.1. Examination of systemic processes in the rehabilitation setting that may affect patient care delivery and safe patient care delivery
      7.2. Application and evaluation of quality and/or process improvement initiatives related to rehabilitation nursing services

The ARN mission is to promote and advance professional rehabilitation nursing practice through research, education, collaboration, and advocacy to enhance the quality of life for those affected by disability and chronic illness.

Rehabilitation nursing is a philosophy of care, not a work setting or a phase of treatment. Rehabilitation nurses work in a range of practice settings, including freestanding rehabilitation, facilities, hospitals, long-term care, and skilled nursing facilities, community and government agencies, schools, and universities.

As professional rehabilitation nurses, we have a commitment to society to provide care that is based on the strongest evidence. This evidence is derived from research, and these findings contribute to the scientific body of rehabilitation nursing knowledge. Congruent with the ARN mission, a Research Agenda was developed and regularly reviewed to provide a strategic approach to advancing rehabilitation nursing science. 

The first Research Agenda was published in 1995 by the Rehabilitation Nursing Foundation (RNF). RNF oversaw the second and third revisions in 2005 and 2014 respectively. In 2017, the ARN Research Committee was formed to promote and support (a) the conduction of research and program evaluation studies that exhibit methodological rigor and are important to rehabilitation nursing; (b) the dissemination and translation of research and program evaluation findings into practice, education, and policy; (c) continuous quality improvement projects that impact the specialty and practice of rehabilitation nursing; and (d) educational venues that focus on the development and translation of science, program evaluation, and quality improvement in varied populations and settings important to the rehabilitation nursing community. In this context, the Research Committee is responsible for updating the research agenda and ensuring its congruency with the ARN mission.  

In 2019, the fourth revision of the Research Agenda is arranged by seven content areas and includes brief descriptions of the high-priority research issues for each area. Interventions mentioned in each content area are based on the latest evidence-based practice (EBP).

ARN and RNF are committed to periodic evaluation and revision of the research agenda, as rehabilitation nursing evolves.

For more information contact RNF at:

Rehabilitation Nursing Foundation
8735 W. Higgins Rd., Suite 300
Chicago, IL 60631
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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