Interventions to promote patient utilisation of cardiac rehabilitation

Carolina Santiago de Araújo Pio, Gabriela S.S. Chaves, Philippa Davies, Rod S. Taylor*, Sherry L. Grace

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article (Academic Journal)peer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)
184 Downloads (Pure)


Background: International clinical practice guidelines routinely recommend that cardiac patients participate in rehabilitation programmes for comprehensive secondary prevention. However, data show that only a small proportion of these patients utilise rehabilitation. Objectives: First, to assess interventions provided to increase patient enrolment in, adherence to, and completion of cardiac rehabilitation. Second, to assess intervention costs and associated harms, as well as interventions intended to promote equitable CR utilisation in vulnerable patient subpopulations. Search methods: Review authors performed a search on 10 July 2018, to identify studies published since publication of the previous systematic review. We searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL); the National Health Service (NHS) Centre for Reviews and Dissemination (CRD) databases (Health Technology Assessment (HTA) and Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects (DARE)), in the Cochrane Library (Wiley); MEDLINE (Ovid); Embase (Elsevier); the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL) (EBSCOhost); and Conference Proceedings Citation Index - Science (CPCI-S) on Web of Science (Clarivate Analytics). We checked the reference lists of relevant systematic reviews for additional studies and also searched two clinical trial registers. We applied no language restrictions. Selection criteria: We included randomised controlled trials (RCTs) in adults with myocardial infarction, with angina, undergoing coronary artery bypass graft surgery or percutaneous coronary intervention, or with heart failure who were eligible for cardiac rehabilitation. Interventions had to aim to increase utilisation of comprehensive phase II cardiac rehabilitation. We included only studies that measured one or more of our primary outcomes. Secondary outcomes were harms and costs, and we focused on equity. Data collection and analysis: Two review authors independently screened the titles and abstracts of all identified references for eligibility, and we obtained full papers of potentially relevant trials. Two review authors independently considered these trials for inclusion, assessed included studies for risk of bias, and extracted trial data independently. We resolved disagreements through consultation with a third review author. We performed random-effects meta-regression for each outcome and explored prespecified study characteristics. Main results: Overall, we included 26 studies with 5299 participants (29 comparisons). Participants were primarily male (64.2%). Ten (38.5%) studies included patients with heart failure. We assessed most studies as having low or unclear risk of bias. Sixteen studies (3164 participants) reported interventions to improve enrolment in cardiac rehabilitation, 11 studies (2319 participants) reported interventions to improve adherence to cardiac rehabilitation, and seven studies (1567 participants) reported interventions to increase programme completion. Researchers tested a variety of interventions to increase utilisation of cardiac rehabilitation. In many studies, this consisted of contacts made by a healthcare provider during or shortly after an acute care hospitalisation. Low-quality evidence shows an effect of interventions on increasing programme enrolment (19 comparisons; risk ratio (RR) 1.27, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.13 to 1.42). Meta-regression revealed that the intervention deliverer (nurse or allied healthcare provider; P = 0.02) and the delivery format (face-to-face; P = 0.01) were influential in increasing enrolment. Low-quality evidence shows interventions to increase adherence were effective (nine comparisons; standardised mean difference (SMD) 0.38, 95% CI 0.20 to 0.55), particularly when they were delivered remotely, such as in home-based programs (SMD 0.56, 95% CI 0.37 to 0.76). Moderate-quality evidence shows interventions to increase programme completion were also effective (eight comparisons; RR 1.13, 95% CI 1.02 to 1.25), but those applied in multi-centre studies were less effective than those given in single-centre studies, leading to questions regarding generalisability. A moderate level of statistical heterogeneity across intervention studies reflects heterogeneity in intervention approaches. There was no evidence of small-study bias for enrolment (insufficient studies to test for this in the other outcomes). With regard to secondary outcomes, no studies reported on harms associated with the interventions. Only two studies reported costs. In terms of equity, trialists tested interventions designed to improve utilisation among women and older patients. Evidence is insufficient for quantitative assessment of whether women-tailored programmes were associated with increased utilisation, and studies that assess motivating women are needed. For older participants, again while quantitative assessment could not be undertaken, peer navigation may improve enrolment. Authors' conclusions: Interventions may increase cardiac rehabilitation enrolment, adherence and completion; however the quality of evidence was low to moderate due to heterogeneity of the interventions used, among other factors. Effects on enrolment were larger in studies targeting healthcare providers, training nurses, or allied healthcare providers to intervene face-to-face; effects on adherence were larger in studies that tested remote interventions. More research is needed, particularly to discover the best ways to increase programme completion.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberCD007131
Pages (from-to)CD007131
Number of pages146
JournalCochrane Database of Systematic Reviews
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2019


  • Adult
  • Angina Pectoris/rehabilitation
  • Angioplasty, Balloon, Coronary/rehabilitation
  • Cardiac Rehabilitation/statistics & numerical data
  • Coronary Artery Bypass/rehabilitation
  • Coronary Disease/rehabilitation
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Heart Failure/rehabilitation
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Infarction/rehabilitation
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care/statistics & numerical data
  • Patient Compliance/statistics & numerical data
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Secondary Prevention


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