Purpose: Cardiac rehabilitation (CR) is a proven effective means for secondary prevention of coronary heart disease. Timely access to CR services is key to promoting patient participation and ensuring optimal patient outcomes. Despite wait time benchmarks having been established, research regarding how long patients wait to enter CR following referral receipt is limited. The aim of this study was to (a) describe wait times from CR referral to intake assessment and (b) examine the association of wait time to CR enrollment rates.
Methods: Wait time from date of CR referral to date of intake assessment was calculated in days for 599 participants referred to CR from 2006 to 2009 inclusive. A descriptive examination of sociodemographic and clinical characteristics was performed, followed by logistic regression analysis to assess the wait time by enrollment relationship.
Results: Median wait time from referral receipt to CR intake was 42.0 days. Wait time had a negative effect on CR enrollment, such that for every 1-day increment in wait time, patients were 1% less likely to enroll.
Conclusions: The time that patients wait to enroll in CR may affect the number of patients who choose to attend, and longer wait times may mean fewer patients will benefit from CR participation. Programs should be encouraged to undertake quality improvement initiatives to ensure wait times are not negatively impacting patient enrollment and ultimately preventing patients from benefiting from CR participation. Further research is needed to establish evidence-based wait time benchmarks and interventions to promote timely access to CR services.