• Vol. 38 No. 3, 197–201
  • 15 March 2009

Functional Outcomes of Cancer Patients in an Inpatient Rehabilitation Setting



Introduction: Cancer is the leading cause of death and the second most common cause of hospitalisation in Singapore. Significant functional gains are achievable with cancer rehabilitation yet there are no formal cancer rehabilitation programmes in Singapore. This study aims to describe the demographics, clinical characteristics, complications and functional outcomes of cancer patients undergoing comprehensive inpatient rehabilitation at our unit and compare these with non-cancer patients. It also seeks to compare these data within sub-groups of the cancer cohort. Materials and Methods: This is a prospective cohort study. The Department of Rehabilitation Medicine database was reviewed for the period between 1 July 2002 and 31 December 2006. One thousand seven hundred and fifty patients had complete records, of which 58 are cancer patients. The primary outcome measures were the discharge total Functional Independence Measure (FIM), FIM gain and FIM efficiency. Other outcome measures included the length of rehabilitation stay, discharge destination, complication rates, rate of transfer back to the referring unit, the length of survival of the cancer patients upon discharge and the durability of the functional improvement made. Results: The mean age of the cancer patients was 57.4 ± 16.1 years and 62% were male. The mean admission total FIM was 70.9 ± 18.0 and the total discharge FIM was 86.2 ± 18.3. The average FIM gain was 15.3 ± 11.6 and the mean efficiency was 0.867 ± 0.806. This improvement is highly significant, and there is no statistical difference in FIM gain or efficiency between the cancer and non-cancer cohort, or between the cancer sub-groups. The length of stay was similar in cancer and non-cancer cohorts but cancer patients with spinal metastasis and those who underwent concomitant radiotherapy stayed longer. There were good rates of discharge home, transfer back, survivorship and durability in functional gains. Conclusion: Cancer patients benefit as much as non-cancer patients in undergoing a rehabilitation programme. More patients should be admitted to such programmes and these programmes should be better structured and refined.

Cancer is the leading cause of death and the second most common cause of hospitalisation in Singapore. Cancer rehabilitation aims to help the patient achieve maximum physical, social, psychological and vocational function within limits imposed by cancer and its therapy through a multi-disciplinary approach.

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