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Open Access Research article

Utilization of rehabilitation services for inpatient with cancer in Taiwan: a descriptive analysis from national health insurance database

Heui-Fen Lin12, Ying-Tai Wu12 and Jau-Yih Tsauo123*

Author Affiliations

1 School and Graduate Institute of Physical Therapy, College of Medicine, National Taiwan University, Floor 3, No 17, Xuzhou Rd, Taipei, Taiwan

2 Division of Physical Therapy, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, National Taiwan University Hospital, No.7, Chung Shan S. Rd, Taipei, Taiwan

3 Physical Therapy Center, National Taiwan University Hospital, No.7, Chung Shan S. Rd, Taipei, Taiwan

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BMC Health Services Research 2012, 12:255  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-12-255

Published: 16 August 2012



Cancer is a major cause of global morbidity and mortality. Since a high prevalence of functional impairments has been observed among cancer patients, rehabilitation has been proposed as a strategy to restore patients’ functional independence. The increasing number of cancer patients combined with a growing need for rehabilitation may result in increased utilization of rehabilitation services. This study aimed to investigate the utilization of rehabilitation services among hospitalized cancer patients in Taiwan between 2004 and 2008.


Annual admissions and total inpatient expenditures for admissions with a cancer diagnosis were calculated from the National Health Insurance Research Database (NHIRD). Rehabilitation services used by cancer and non-cancer patients, as well as the distributions of rehabilitation service type among the different hospital departments were also analyzed.


The percentages of inpatient admissions with a cancer diagnosis increased from 14.01% to 17.1% between 2004 and 2008. During 2004, 5.25% of all inpatient admissions received rehabilitation services; this percentage increased to 5.62% by 2008. Among cancer admissions, 2.26% to 2.62% received rehabilitation services from 2004 to 2008. By comparison, 5.68% to 6.24% of non-cancer admissions received rehabilitation services during this period. Of the admissions who received rehabilitation services, only 6.44% and 7.96% had a cancer diagnosis in 2004 and 2008, respectively. Sixty-one percent of rehabilitation services were delivered in the departments of orthopedics (25.6%), neurology (14.4%), rehabilitation (11.9%), and neurosurgery (9.2%).


In Taiwan, the utilization of rehabilitation services during hospitalization increased from 2004 to 2008. Although this trend was noted for cancer and non-cancer admissions, the utilization of rehabilitation services was generally greater by non-cancer admissions. Despite the benefits of rehabilitation, the actual rehabilitation needs of cancer patients remain unmet.

Cancer; Rehabilitation; Utilization; Taiwan