SMARTER goal setting in aphasia rehabilitation

Deborah Hersh, Linda Worrall, Tami Howe, Sue Sherratt, Bronwyn Davidson

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    93 Citations (Scopus)


    Background: There have been numerous calls for rehabilitation professionals to involve patients or clients in decisions about the goals of therapy. And yet collaborative goal setting in rehabilitation remains uncommon and is particularly difficult to achieve for people with aphasia.Aims: This discussion paper describes a new framework for conceptualising and structuring collaborative goal setting in aphasia rehabilitation. The framework has been developed based on the results of a large, multi-centred Australian study, the Goals in Aphasia Project, which explored client, family, and speech pathology experiences of rehabilitation goal setting. This framework, called SMARTER Goal Setting, describes a process of goal setting that is Shared, Monitored, Accessible, Relevant, Transparent, Evolving and Relationship-centred.Methods & Procedures: The methods and results from the Goals in Aphasia Project have already been published elsewhere but involved in-depth interviews with 50 people with aphasia, 48 family members, and 34 treating speech pathologists. This paper reviews the broader literature and summarises relevant findings from the Goals in Aphasia Project as a basis for discussion of each category of SMARTER.Outcomes & Results: Our new SMARTER framework both challenges and complements elements of the pervasive SMART goal paradigm (that goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound), which currently dominates rehabilitation goal setting. SMARTER offers an easy way to summarise much of the collaborative work that already takes place in clinical practice but also emphasises aspects that could be improved. SMARTER does not replace SMART, but we suggest that SMART goals can be negotiated in a SMARTER way.Conclusions: While this paper discusses SMARTER goal setting within aphasia rehabilitation, a particularly challenging context for the implementation of collaborative practice, it may be applicable to rehabilitation more broadly. Given that person-centred goal setting within stroke rehabilitation remains infrequent, we suggest that there is an urgent need to raise awareness of its importance and challenge current practice. The SMARTER framework provides a useful structure to support collaborative goal setting.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)220-233
    Number of pages14
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2012


    • Aphasia rehabilitation
    • Collaborative
    • Goal setting
    • Qualitative research


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