noAims and objectives; We report findings from a qualitative study to identify patient views of community hospital care. We consider how far these were in accord with the hospital staffs' views. This constituted part of a wider randomized controlled trial (RCT). The methodological challenges in seeking to identify patient satisfaction and in linking qualitative findings with trial results are explored. \ud \ud Design A sample of 13 patients randomized to the community hospital arm of the RCT joined the qualitative study. Official documentation from the hospital were accessed and six staff interviewed to identify assumptions underlying practice. \ud \ud Results Analysis of interviews identified a complex picture concerning expectations These could be classified as ideal, realistic, normative and unformed. The hospital philosophy and staff views about service delivery were closely in harmony, they delivered rehabilitation in a home-based atmosphere. The formal, or 'hard', process of rehabilitation was not well understood by patients. They were primarily concerned with 'soft' or process issues ¿ where and how care was delivered. \ud \ud Conclusions We identify a model of community hospital care that incorporates technical aspects of rehabilitation within a human approach that is welcomed by patients. If patients are to be able to participate in making informed decisions about care, the rationale for the activities of staff need to be more clearly explained. Recommendations are made about the appropriate scope of qualitative findings in the context of trials and about techniques to access patient views in areas where they have difficulty in expressing critical impressions
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