Background: Many patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) fail to attend cardiac rehabilitation following acute coronary events because they lack motivation to exercise. Theory-based approaches to promote physical activity among non-participants in cardiac rehabilitation are required.
Design: A randomized trial comparing physical activity levels at baseline, 6, and 12 months between a motivational counselling (MC) intervention group and a usual care (UC) control group.
Method: One hundred and forty-one participants hospitalized with acute coronary syndromes not planning to attend cardiac rehabilitation were recruited at a single centre and randomized to either MC (n = 69) or UC (n = 72). The MC intervention, designed from an ecological perspective, included one face-to-face contact and eight telephone contacts with a trained physiotherapist over a 52-week period. The UC group received written information about starting a walking programme and brief physical activity advice from their attending cardiologist. Physical activity was measured by: 7-day physical activity recall interview; self-report questionnaire; and pedometer at baseline, 6, and 12 months after randomization.
Results: Latent growth curve analyses, which combined all three outcome measures into a single latent construct, showed that physical activity increased more over time in the MC versus the UC group (µ(add) = 0.69, p < 0.05).
Conclusion: Patients with CAD not participating in cardiac rehabilitation receiving a theory-based motivational counselling intervention were more physically active at follow-up than those receiving usual care. This intervention may extend the reach of cardiac rehabilitation by increasing physical activity in those disinclined to participate in structured programmes.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00265525.