Anticipated Barriers to Implementation of Community-Based Rehabilitation in Ribeirão Preto, Brazil

Regina Célia Fiorati, Regina Y. Dakuzaku Carretta, Karine Pereira Joaquim, Aline Ferreira Placeres, Tiago Silva Jesus


Purpose: Disability is a global health and a global development concern. To address both issues, a community-based rehabilitation (CBR) approach is increasingly recommended to meet a spectrum of needs, especially for people with disabilities. It is first necessary to understand the perceptions of local, frontline providers, in order to design effective measures for implementing CBR programmes. This paper aimed to understand the conceptions of Primary Healthcare Providers (PHPs) - serving a sub-urban, socially-vulnerable territory in Brazil - about: 1) disability, 2) rehabilitation, and 3) the possible local implementation of a CBR strategy, including any anticipated barriers.

Method: Cross-sectional, exploratory qualitative research was based on focus groups conducted between 2013 and 2016. It involved a total of 78 PHPs serving the western region of the Ribeirão Preto municipality in São Paulo, Brazil. Data analysis was based on Habermas’ critical hermeneutics approach.

Results: PHPs understood disability mostly within the biomedical paradigm. Similarly, the predominant conception of rehabilitation was focussed on enabling individuals’ capacity, more than their environment. For local CBR implementation, the barriers that were anticipated were: 1) difficulties in managing and running action across sectors, and 2) the broader socio-political environment that hardly empowers civil society and is affected by power differentials.

Conclusion and Implications: While local PHPs identified important CBR implementation barriers which are contextual in nature, the predominant conceptions of disability and rehabilitation (i.e., biomedical, impairments-based) also act as a barrier. Contextual and cognitive barriers must both be addressed when envisioning a local CBR implementation.


People with disabilities; rehabilitation; CBR; primary healthcare

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