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Clin Cardiol. 2013 Jun;36(6):323-35. doi: 10.1002/clc.22126. Epub 2013 May 3.

Physician factors affecting cardiac rehabilitation referral and patient enrollment: a systematic review.

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Exercise Sciences Department, Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


Physicians play an important role in CR referral and enrollment. Despite established benefits and recommendations, cardiac rehabilitation (CR) enrollment rates are pervasively low. The reasons cardiac patients are missing from CR programs are multifactorial and include provider factors. A number of studies have now investigated physician factors associated with referral to CR programs and patient enrollment. The objective of this study was to qualitatively and systematically review this literature. A literature search of MEDLINE, PsycINFO, CINAHL, Embase, and EBM was conducted for published articles from database inception to October 2011. Overall, 17 articles were included following a process of independent review of each article by 2 authors. Seven (41.2%) were graded as good quality according to Downs and Black criteria. There were no randomized controlled trials. Results showed that medical specialty (ie, cardiac specialists more likely to refer; n = 8 studies) and other physician-reported reasons (eg, physician report of their reasons for CR referral and physician sex) were related to referral. Physician factors related to patient enrollment in CR were physician endorsement, medical specialty, being referred, and physician attitudes toward CR. Physician factors are consistently related to CR referral and enrollment. The role of physician endorsements in promoting patient enrollment should be optimized and exploited.

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