Cardiac rehabilitation: Unraveling the complexity of referral and current models of delivery

Carolyn M. Astley, Lis Neubeck, Robyn Gallagher, Narelle Berry, Huiyun Du, Martha N. Hill, Robyn A. Clark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: Evidence-based guidelines recommend strategies for reducing risk factors for secondary prevention of acute coronary syndromes, yet referral to and completion of programs to deliver this advice are poor. Purpose: In this article we describe the complexity of factors that influence referral and delivery of evidence-based cardiac rehabilitation (CR) programs through an Australian context and provide direction for solutions for clinicians and policy makers to consider. The Ecological Approach is used as a framework to synthesize evidence. The approach has 5 categories, the characteristics of which may act as barriers and enablers to the promotion and adoption of health behaviors and includes (a) interpersonal factors, (b) interpersonal factors, (c) institutional factors, (d) community networks, and (e) public policy. Conclusions: Despite the context of strong evidence for efficacy, this review highlights systematic flaws in the implementation of CR, an important intervention that has been shown to improve patient outcomes and prevent cardiac events. Recommendations from this review include standardization of program delivery, improvement of data capture, use of technological innovations and social networks to facilitate delivery of information and support, and establishment of a cohesive, consistent message through interorganizational collaboration involved in CR. Clinical Implications: These avenues provide direction for potential solutions to improve the uptake of CR and secondary prevention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)236-243
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Cardiovascular Nursing
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2017


  • Cardiac rehabilitation
  • Models of delivery
  • Referral
  • Secondary prevention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing


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