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BMC Cardiovasc Disord. 2010 Jun 10;10:27. doi: 10.1186/1471-2261-10-27.

The development of an internet-based outpatient cardiac rehabilitation intervention: a Delphi study.

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Centre for Physical Activity Studies, Institute for Health and Social Sciences Research, Central Queensland University, Rockhampton 4702, Australia.



Face-to-face outpatient cardiac rehabilitation (OCR) programs are an important and effective component in the management of cardiovascular disease. However, these programs have low participation rates, especially among patients who live rural or remote. Hence, there is a need to develop OCR programs that provide an alternative to face-to-face contact such as by using the Internet. Only a very limited number of Internet-based OCR programs have been developed and evaluated. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to identify issues that are relevant to the development of an Internet-based OCR intervention.


A three-round Delphi study among cardiac rehabilitation experts was conducted. In the first round, 43 experts outlined opinions they had on the development of an online ORC platform into an open-ended electronic questionnaire. In the second round, 42 experts completed a structured (five-point scale) electronic questionnaire based on first round results, in which they scored items on their relevance. In the third round, the same experts were asked to re-rate the same items after feedback was given about the group median relevance score to establish a level of consensus.


After the third round, high consensus was reached in 120 of 162 (74%) questionnaire items, of which 93 (57% of 162 items) also had high relevance according to the experts. The results indicate that experts strongly agreed on desired website content, data obtained from the patient, and level of interaction with patients that should be part of an Internet-based OCR intervention.


The high rates of consensus and relevance observed among cardiac rehabilitation experts are an indication that they perceived the development and implementation of an Internet-based ORC intervention as feasible, and as a valuable alternative to face-to-face programs. In many ways the experts indicated that an Internet-based ORC program should mimic a traditional face-to-face program, and emphasize the crucial role of the cardiac rehabilitation manager who interacts with patients from a distance. The present study revealed practical insights into how Internet OCR interventions should be designed and opens the door for the development of such an intervention to be subsequently examined in a longitudinal and experimental study.

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