Promoting patient uptake and adherence in cardiac rehabilitation

Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014 Jun 25;(6):CD007131. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD007131.pub3.


Background: Cardiac rehabilitation is an important component of recovery from coronary events but uptake and adherence to such programs are below recommended levels. In 2010, our Cochrane review identified some evidence that interventions to increase uptake of cardiac rehabilitation can be effective but there was insufficient evidence to provide recommendations on intervention to increase adherence. In this review, we update the previously published Cochrane review.

Objectives: To determine the effects, both harms and benefits, of interventions to increase patient uptake of, or adherence to, cardiac rehabilitation.

Search methods: We performed an updated search in January 2013 to identify studies published after publication of the previous systematic review. We searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) (Issue 12, 2012), MEDLINE (Ovid), EMBASE (Ovid), CINAHL EBSCO, Conference Proceedings Citation Index - Science (CPCI-S) on Web of Science (Thomson Reuters), and National Health Service (NHS) Centre for Reviews and Dissemination (CRD) databases (Health Technology Assessment (HTA) and Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects (DARE)) on The Cochrane Library (Issue 4, 2012). We also checked reference lists of identified systematic reviews and randomised controlled trials (RCTs) for additional studies. We applied no language restrictions.

Selection criteria: Adults with myocardial infarction, coronary artery bypass graft, percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty, heart failure, angina, or coronary heart disease eligible for cardiac rehabilitation and RCTs or quasi-randomized trials of interventions to increase uptake or adherence to cardiac rehabilitation or any of its component parts. We only included studies reporting a primary outcome.

Data collection and analysis: At least three authors independently screened titles and abstracts of all identified references for eligibility and obtained full papers of potentially relevant trials. At least two authors checked the selection. Three authors assessed included studies for risk of bias.

Main results: The updated search identified seven new studies (880 participants) of interventions to improve uptake of cardiac rehabilitation and one new study (260 participants) of interventions to increase adherence. When added to the previous version of this review, we included 18 studies (2505 participants), 10 studies (1338 participants) of interventions to improve uptake of cardiac rehabilitation and eight studies (1167 participants) of interventions to increase adherence. We assessed the majority of studies as having high or unclear risk of bias. Meta-analysis was not possible due to multiple sources of heterogeneity. Eight of 10 studies demonstrated increased uptake of cardiac rehabilitation. Successful interventions to improve uptake of cardiac rehabilitation included: structured nurse- or therapist-led contacts, early appointments after discharge, motivational letters, gender-specific programs, and intermediate phase programs for older patients. Three of eight studies demonstrated improvement in adherence to cardiac rehabilitation. Successful interventions included: self monitoring of activity, action planning, and tailored counselling by cardiac rehabilitation staff. Data were limited on mortality and morbidity but did not demonstrate a difference in cardiovascular events or mortality except for one study that noted an increased rate of revascularization in the intervention group. None of the studies found a difference in health-related quality of life and there was no evidence of adverse events. No studies reported on costs or healthcare utilization.

Authors' conclusions: We found only weak evidence to suggest that interventions to increase the uptake of cardiac rehabilitation are effective. Practice recommendations for increasing adherence to cardiac rehabilitation cannot be made. Interventions targeting patient-identified barriers may increase the likelihood of success. Further high-quality research is still needed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

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