Home-based Telerehabilitation Is Not Inferior to a Centre-Based Program in Patients With Chronic Heart Failure: A Randomised Trial

J Physiother. 2017 Apr;63(2):101-107. doi: 10.1016/j.jphys.2017.02.017. Epub 2017 Mar 14.


Question: Is a 12-week, home-based telerehabilitation program conducted in small groups non-inferior to a traditional centre-based program in terms of the change in 6-minute walk distance? Is the telerehabilitation program also non-inferior to a centre-based program in terms of functional capacity, muscle strength, quality of life, urinary incontinence, patient satisfaction, attendance rates, and adverse events?

Design: Randomised, parallel, non-inferiority trial with concealed allocation, intention-to-treat analysis and assessor blinding.

Participants: Patients with stable chronic heart failure (including heart failure with reduced or preserved ejection fraction) were recruited from two tertiary hospitals in Brisbane, Australia.

Intervention: The experimental group received a 12-week, real-time exercise and education intervention delivered into the participant's home twice weekly, using online videoconferencing software. The control group received a traditional hospital outpatient-based program of the same duration and frequency. Both groups received similar exercise prescription.

Outcome measures: Participants were assessed by independent assessors at baseline (Week 0), at the end of the intervention (Week 12) and at follow-up (Week 24). The primary outcome was a between-group comparison of the change in 6-minute walk distance, with a non-inferiority margin of 28m. Secondary outcomes included other functional measures, quality of life, patient satisfaction, program attendance rates and adverse events.

Results: In 53 participants (mean age 67 years, 75% males), there were no significant between-group differences on 6-minute walk distance gains, with a mean difference of 15m (95% CI -28 to 59) at Week 12. The confidence intervals were within the predetermined non-inferiority range. The secondary outcomes indicated that the experimental intervention was at least as effective as traditional rehabilitation. Significantly higher attendance rates were observed in the telerehabilitation group.

Conclusion: Telerehabilitation was not inferior to a hospital outpatient-based rehabilitation program in patients with chronic heart failure. Telerehabilitation appears to be an appropriate alternative because it promotes greater attendance at the rehabilitation sessions.

Trial registration: ACTRN12613000390785. [Hwang R, Bruning J, Morris NR, Mandrusiak A, Russell T (2017) Home-based telerehabilitation is not inferior to a centre-based program in patients with chronic heart failure: a randomised trial. Journal of Physiotherapy 63: 101-107].

Keywords: Cardiac failure; Exercise; Physical therapy; Telemedicine; Telerehabilitation.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Australia
  • Cardiac Rehabilitation / methods*
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Heart Failure / rehabilitation*
  • Home Care Services
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Strength
  • Patient Reported Outcome Measures
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Physical Endurance
  • Physical Therapy Modalities
  • Telerehabilitation / methods*
  • Therapy, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome