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Contemp Nurse. 2008 Jun;29(2):195-204.

Unstructured cardiac rehabilitation and secondary prevention in rural South Australia: does it meet best practice guidelines?

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  • 1School of Nursing and Midwifery, Flinders University, Renmark, SA, Australia.


Comprehensive cardiac rehabilitation programs that address risk factors, psychological problems, and physical activity are essential in optimizing health and reducing the risk of further cardiac events. Behavioural and lifestyle modification support offered through these programs is predicated on initial identification of risk. Many rural populations in Australia do not have access to structured cardiac rehabilitation (CR) programs, and the level of support available to them in the form of unstructured CR is unclear. A retrospective analysis of medical records of patients presenting to hospital with myocardial infarction in rural South Australia over a 12 month period was undertaken to identify documented evidence of assessment of and intervention for lifestyle and behavioural risk factors in-hospital and at follow up in general practice (GP) clinics. Of 77 eligible participants, permission was received to access the medical records of 55 patients in the hospital setting, and 34 of these 55 patients in GP clinic follow up. Documented evidence of assessment of modifiable risk factors was inadequate for the majority of participants, with the exception of smoking status, hypertension and diabetes. This suggests that the majority of these participants did not receive lifestyle and behavioural interventions in line with current National Heart Foundation Recommendations for Cardiac Rehabilitation. Barriers to comprehensive CR and secondary prevention services in Australia must be addressed, particularly in high risk rural and remote populations. Future research must focus on the ongoing monitoring and evaluation of rural health care services to analyse existing levels of CR and secondary prevention to ensure current guidelines are being implemented, to support the further development and resourcing of CR services and to evaluate the subsequent impact on patient outcomes.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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