Importance of cardiac rehabilitation in rural and remote areas of Australia

Patricia Field, Richard C. Franklin, Ruth Barker, Ian Ring, Peter Leggat, Karla Canuto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To assess implementation of in-patient cardiac rehabilitation (Phase-1-cardiac rehabilitation), impact on people in rural and remote areas of Australia and potential methods for addressing identified weaknesses. Design: Exploratory case study methodology using qualitative and quantitative methods. Qualitative data collection via semi-structured interviews, using thematic analysis, augmented by quantitative data collection via a medical record audit. Setting: Four regional hospitals (2 Queensland Health and 2 private) providing tertiary health care. Participants: (a) Hospital in-patients with heart disease ≥18 years. (b) Staff responsible for their care. Outcome Measures: Implementation of Phase-1-cardiac rehabilitation in tertiary hosptials in North Queensland and the impact on in-patients discharge planning and post discharge care. Recommentations and implications for practice are proposed to address deficits. Results: Phase-1-cardiac rehabilitation implementation rates, in-patient understanding and multidisciplinary team involvement were low. The highest rates of Phase-1-cardiac rehabilitation were for in-patients with a length of stay three days or more in cardiac units with cardiac educators. Rates were lower in cardiac units with no cardiac educators, and lowest for in-patients in all areas of all hospitals with length of stay of two days or less days. Low Phase-1-cardiac rehabilitation implementation rates resulted in poor in-patient understanding about their disease, treatment and post-discharge care. Further, medical discharge summaries rarely mentioned cardiac rehabilitation/secondary prevention or risk factor management resulting in a lack of information for health care providers on cardiac rehabilitation and holistic health care. Conclusion: Implementation of Phase-1-cardiac rehabilitation in regional hospitals in this study fell short of recommended best practice, resulting in patients' poor preparation for discharge, and insufficient information on holistic care for health care providers in rural and remote areas. These factors potentially impact on holistic care for people returning home following treatment for heart disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-163
Number of pages15
JournalAustralian Journal of Rural Health
Issue number2
Early online date21 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • cardiac rehabilitation
  • health systems
  • rural and remote
  • secondary prevention


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