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The influence of non-modifiable illness perceptions on attendance at cardiac rehabilitation

Blair, Julie; Angus, Neil J; Lauder, William J; Atherton, Iain; Evans, Josie; Leslie, Stephen J


Julie Blair

Neil J Angus

William J Lauder

Josie Evans

Stephen J Leslie


Background: Despite the established benefits of cardiac rehabilitation (CR) attendance rates remain variable. Physical barriers to attendance have been extensively investigated but relatively less is known about the relationship between attendance at CR and psychosocial variables such as illness perceptions and social isolation.

Aim: To examine the influence of socio-demographic factors, illness perceptions and social isolation on patient attendance at cardiac rehabilitation.

Methods: All individuals offered CR over a two-year period were invited to take part in a postal survey. The survey collected socio-demographic data and included completion of the Friendship Scale, to assess social isolation, and the Brief Illness Perceptions Questionnaire. Parametric and non-parametric statistical tests were used as appropriate.

Results: One hundred and twenty-eight (47%) questionnaires were returned. Non-attendees reported higher total illness perception scores and those who attributed their illness to non-modifiable factors were significantly less likely to attend CR (p = 0.042). Attendees reported lower levels of social isolation; however, this finding was not statistically significant. No differences were found between attendees and non-attendees in terms of their age, gender, educational status or proximity to cardiac rehabilitation centre.

Conclusion: Psychosocial barriers, specifically illness perceptions and attributions, were found to be significant with patients who did not attend CR reporting more negative illness perceptions. Distance to CR was not a significant factor influencing attendance. Early screening of perceived causal attributions may help to identify those who would benefit from early and targeted intervention to increase participation in CR. Future prospective studies would permit testing of screening approaches and early interventions.

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Feb 4, 2013
Publication Date 2014
Deposit Date Jan 27, 2015
Print ISSN 1474-5151
Electronic ISSN 1873-1953
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 13
Issue 1
Pages 55-62
Keywords cardiac rehabilitation; illness perceptions; illness attributions; barriers
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