Objective: To critically review the literature regarding the effectiveness of interventions aimed at improving cardiovascular patient compliance with nonpharmacologic treatments.
Methods: We searched Medline, Healthplan, and Psychlit from 1985 to 1996; searched the bibliographies of located studies; contacted Australian government departments and nongovernment organizations; and two experts examined the resulting study list. We selected 27 studies, which randomly allocated patients to groups and were published in English, and we evaluated interventions aimed at increasing compliance with nonpharmacologic treatments for cardiovascular disease. These trials were critically appraised against eight methodologic criteria and, subsequently, classified as of good, fair, or poor quality. Information about target groups, samples, trial intervention strategies and their effectiveness were extracted from the 18 good- and fair-quality trials. Interrater reliability was high on the 20% of references that were double-coded. The 18 studies reviewed described the effectiveness of 27 intervention strategies at improving compliance with dietary, smoking-cessation, exercise, weight-loss, stress-reduction, general lifestyle, relaxation, and blood pressure screening programs.
Results: Tentative recommendations were made for or against most trial strategies: partner-focused and structural strategies showed the most consistent benefits, physician-focused strategies were unanimously unsuccessful, and patient-focused strategies were of mixed benefit.
Conclusions: The methodologic quality of many of the located trials was less than optimal. Therefore, further good-quality, randomized trials are necessary to clarify the effectiveness of those strategies identified as potentially useful in this review.