The Rehabilitation Research Matrix. Producing knowledge at micro, meso and macro levels.


Publication date



Taylor & Francis

Document type


Purpose: EU policy documents and health scholars point out that in order to understand the complexity of modern health systems, as well as to devise appropriate policy responses, considering micro, meso, and macro levels is indispensable. This article aims to develop an analytical framework for how rehabilitation as an interdisciplinary field can be framed in such a three-level framework. Methods: This is a conceptual paper based on recent contributions to the development of a theory of rehabilitation. The paper applies sociological theory to build an analytical framework for a holistic understanding of rehabilitation. Results: Three groups of agents in the field of rehabilitation are identified: individuals with disabilities, professionals, and governmental authorities. The paper systematizes how these agents are positioned and act at micro, meso, and macro levels. In the intersection between the three levels of society and the three groups of actors, a nine-cell table emerges. In the cells of the table, key examples of important social processes to study in the field of disability and rehabilitation are identified. At the micro level, individuals experience a daily life relevant to rehabilitation, professionals ask what works in therapy, and policy authorities promote a strong work ethic. At the meso level, individuals with disabilities act as service user groups, professionals develop organizational designs and the policy authorities ask for cost-effective services. At the macro level, organizations representing people with disabilities lobby, professionals negotiate authorization issues, and the policymaking authorities must identify what can count as just distribution of services. The nine cells of the table are elaborated on by presenting relevant current studies exemplifying each cell. Conclusion: To systematize societal levels and agents involved is to enhance the understanding of rehabilitation as an interdisciplinary field of research. Implications for rehabilitation Rehabilitation practice and research must relate to different levels of society and identify different social agents. Service users are not only individuals receiving therapy, but also organized agents influencing the organization of rehabilitation services as well as priorities made at the level of policy development. Both the results produced by health professionals doing a clinical trial and political scientists studying rehabilitation policy disputes will improve when placed in a wide frame of knowledge production.




Permanent URL (for citation purposes)