Goal adjustment by people living with long-term conditions: a scoping review of literature published from January 2007 to June 2018

Lesley Scobbie*, Katie Thomson, Alex Pollock, Jonathan Evans

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
126 Downloads (Pure)


Long-term health conditions can limit achievement of personal goals. We aimed to map and synthesize definitions of goal adjustment, theoretical underpinnings, associations with recovery and supportive interventions for adults with long-term conditions. We searched multiple databases (January 2007–June 2018) and identified peer-reviewed research relating to goal adjustment. Data were charted, mapped and synthesized using content analysis and descriptive summaries. Two stakeholder consultations informed the review. Ninety-one articles were included. A range of long-term conditions were represented including cancer (22%), stroke (12%) and mixed neurological conditions (8%). Goal adjustment was one available option when faced with unattainable goals; other options were goal disengagement and goal re-engagement. Most studies were quantitative (58%), reporting mainly positive associations between goal adjustment, disengagement, reengagement and recovery. The Dual Process Model, Goal Adjustment Model and Self-Regulation Theory were most cited underpinning models/theory. Five interventions were identified; only one (self-system therapy) was evaluated in a randomized controlled trial. Our review provides original and significant insights into goal adjustment definitions, theoretical underpinnings and association with recovery. Effective interventions to support goal adjustment, disengagement and reengagement are lacking. This research-practice gap warrants attention to ensure people with long-term conditions are optimally supported when facing unattainable goals.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1314-1345
Number of pages32
JournalNeuropsychological Rehabilitation
Issue number8
Early online date11 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - 14 Sep 2021


  • long-term conditions
  • goal adjustment
  • recovery
  • wellbeing
  • scoping review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Rehabilitation
  • Applied Psychology


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