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Rehabilitation Research

  • Need for and use of rehabilitation services
  • Classification systems in rehabilitation     
  • Assessment development and deployment     
  • Effectiveness and efficiency of rehabilitation     
  • Supply structures and models
  • Quality control     
  • Sustainability and aftercare     
  • Patient-centred care and new media

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Rehabilitation Research

Rehabilitation research deals with the need for and use of rehabilitation services, the quality of structures, processes and results of service delivery in specialist hospitals, the development of instruments, such as needs assessments, and studies on the effectiveness of rehabilitation measures. Particular attention is paid to the optimisation of interfaces in the care process, i.e. rehabilitation access management and rehabilitation aftercare. Patient-centred care focuses on developing and implementing support services for patients and health care providers, in some instances using new media; for example, a cardiac passport and an online portal (cardiac signpost) were developed for cardiological rehabilitation and a telephone follow-up offer was implemented and evaluated for addiction rehabilitation. Another focus is the development of rehabilitation classification systems, e.g. for vocational rehabilitation services, and the differentiation of rehabilitation case groups. The department’s research approaches are multi-indicator, with an emphasis on addiction rehabilitation, psychosomatic, orthopaedic and cardiological rehabilitation.


Prof. Dr. phil. Karla Spyra

Head of the Rehabilitation Department

Completed research projects

Impact of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic on addiction rehabilitation (CoV-AZuR)

People suffering from addiction are particularly at risk in several respects. On the one hand, due to a weakened immune system as well as severe previous illnesses, they are more likely to belong to the group of people with a higher risk of a severe course of covid 19. On the other hand, addicted people are often unable to implement applicable hygiene regulations or to isolate themselves at home and thus have an increased risk of infection. The pandemic situation could favour relapses in the course of the disease, especially if a scheduled termination or continuation of the therapy cannot be guaranteed.

Therefore, the study "CoV-AZuR" investigated the impact of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic on access, utilisation and organisation of addiction rehabilitation.

Project duration: 10/2020 - 12/2022

Funding: German Federal Pension Insurance 

Physicians with foreign degrees in German rehabilitation facilities - a quantitative cross-sectional study (MaAquant)

The aim of the project was to obtain a quantitative overview of the number, geographical distribution and other characteristics of physicians with foreign degrees in the German rehabilitation system. For this purpose, a two-stage cross-sectional hybrid survey on departmental and individual level was conducted via the quality assurance database of the German Pension Insurance. Based on the results of the project, statements can be made about the role of the rehabilitation system in the integration of physicians with foreign degrees into the German health care system and targeted measures can be initiated to increase the attractiveness of rehabilitation as an employer.

Project duration: 11/2021 - 21/2022

Funding: German Federal Pension Insurance

KardioApp - a mobile electronic application to improve self-management and increase treatment adherence in patients with coronary heart disease (CHD)

The aim of the project was to develop a mobile application (app) for use on smartphones, tablets and desktop PCs for patients with coronary heart disease (cardio app), which was followed by a usage and acceptance analysis. The basis for the app was the cardio passport developed in the research project "AkuReNa" and tested by rehabilitation patients, which was designed for aftercare. After technical completion, the cardio app was used by 158 study participants over a period of five months and subsequently evaluated.

Project duration: 04/2018 - 03/2022

Funding: German Pension Insurance Berlin-Brandenburg

Status quo of aftercare in child and youth rehabilitation after the entry into force of the "Flexirentengesetz"- Utilisation, inventory and demand (naKiJU)

With the "Act to make the transition from working life to retirement more flexible and to strengthen prevention and rehabilitation in working life (Flexirentengesetz)", the legislator also decisively strengthened rehabilitation for children and young people. Among other things, aftercare following medical rehabilitation for children and young people became an independent compulsory benefit of the German Pension Insurance. Since then, children have a right to aftercare according to §17 SGB VI if it is necessary to ensure the success of rehabilitation.

The project aimed to analyse in more detail the offer of and need for rehabilitation aftercare for children and adolescents since the "Flexirentengesetz" came into force. For this purpose, the utilisation was analysed by means of routine data from the German Pension Insurance, existing aftercare services were reviewed and the need for and barriers to the utilisation of aftercare for children and adolescents were explored by means of qualitative interviews and focus groups.

Project duration: 01/2020 - 11/2021

Funding: German Federal Pension Insurance

E-media lending in patient libraries (E-Books)

E-Nooks in hospitals: Establishment, testing and evaluation of e-book lending in patient libraries (E-Books)

Although the health benefits of reading have been proven and e-books are now widely available, no lending procedure for digital media by hospital libraries existed until now.
The aim of this implementation study was therefore to develop a standard of systematic workflows for the introduction of e-media lending in German hospital libraries. In addition, an online portal was developed ("Lisando"), which allows patients, their relatives and hospital staff to access digital media free of charge.
The special situation in the inpatient setting was taken into account in the development of the service. The target criteria for successful implementation were developed in a participatory approach together with patients, hospital staff and patient libraries. In addition, the e-media service and the offer to borrow e-readers also reached specific user groups that had not been able to benefit from the services of the patient libraries before (e.g. patients in isolation wards).
After completion of the project, the Lisando cooperation network for lending digital media will be open to all hospital libraries nationwide that would like to offer their patients and staff digital lending. The final report on the project includes a manual for the introduction of an on-lending service as support for new patient libraries joining the network and is freely available for download.

In September 2021, Lisando was awarded the first prize by the Association of Medical Libraries (AGMB) as a "Lighthouse Project in Medical Libraries 2021".

Project duration: 11/2017 – 10/2020


  • Clinic library at Münster University Hospital (UKM)
  • Patient library of the Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Campus Mitte (CCM)
  • Patient library of the Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Campus Benjamin-Franklin (CBF)

Funding: Federal Ministry of Health


  • Detlefs B. Lisando: A hospital libraries’ cooperative service. GMS Med Bibl Inf 2021;21(3):Doc16, DOI: 10.3205/mbi000505
  • Detlefs B, Michel E. Lisando: Neuester Meilenstein in der Geschichte der deutschen Patientenbibliotheken. BuB – Forum Bibliothek und Information. 2019;(6):325
  • Michel E, Binder AJ, Schlumbohm A, Brünger M. E-Books im Krankenhaus: Aufbau, Erprobung und Evaluierung der E-Book-Ausleihe in Patientenbibliotheken. Abschlussbericht. Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin; 2021. DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.4953823

Validation of a questionnaire to assess rehabilitation and prevention needs (Ü45 screening)

Validation of a questionnaire to assess the rehabilitation and prevention needs of over-45s

The Act to Make the Transition from Working Life to Retirement More Flexible and to Strengthen Prevention and Rehabilitation in Working Life (Flexirentengesetz) provides for the "introduction of voluntary, individual, work-related health care for insured persons [...] across all institutions to be tested in model projects for insured persons aged 45 and over". Furthermore, the pension insurance institutions are to provide medical services for insured persons with initial health impairments in the future. In addition, the new Federal Participation Act also provides that the need for rehabilitation of insured persons is to be recognised at an early stage by the rehabilitation providers using suitable instruments.

So far, there is a lack of validated instruments to determine the occupational ability to participate, which, in a short screening, can give the service providers an indication of which insured persons should receive a prevention or rehabilitation service and when, in order to prevent impending occupational participation disorders.

The research project therefore aims to validate a pre-developed Ü45 screening. For this purpose, data from a postal survey of insured persons of the German Pension Insurance will be linked with process data of the study participants and subsequently analysed.

Project duration: 1/2018 - 1/2020

Funding and cooperation partners:

  • German Federal Pension Insurance
  • German Pension Insurance Berlin-Brandenburg
  • German Pension Insurance Central Germany

Final report: Download


  • Bernert S, Brünger M, Falk J, Streibelt M, Spyra K: Validierung eines Screenings zur Erfassung von Präventions- und Rehabilitationsbedarf bei Über-45-Jährigen. DRV-Schriften 2020, 120: 138–140