Achievement Goal Orientations in Physical Rehabilitation

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Goals are used extensively in physical rehabilitation medicine to measure success. However, the goal construct has been given very little attention in research as compared to the domains of education and sport. Educational researchers and sport psychologists have described the cognitions and relations between goals, beliefs, motivation, and achievement behavior for their respective domains. In particular, goal orientation, a set of beliefs about ability, effort, achievement, and resulting behavior, is a dimension of achievement motivation that affects success in those fields. Goal orientation may influence participation and success in physical rehabilitation as there are aspects of physical rehabilitation that are similar to education and sport contexts. This study examined goal orientations for 237 patients receiving acute in-patient rehabilitation. A questionnaire was created and validated to assess goal or work orientations specific to this sample. Interview data supplemented results from the factor analysis of the questionnaire. Occupational therapists of the patient participants provided quantitative and qualitative data regarding their patients' success and factors related to success. The mastery and performance-avoid goal orientations and the cooperation work orientation were found with the highest frequency. However, none of these orientations related to success. The high frequency of the cooperation work orientation with interview comments validating the usefulness of this motivational aspect provides evidence for the use of groups in rehabilitation. The age of the participant significantly influenced three of the five goal or work orientations included in the study. This study provides a start in the investigation of additional dimensions to the goal construct that may affect participation and rehabilitation success.