A Motivational Telephone Intervention to Reduce Early Dropouts in Cardiac Rehabilitation: A FEASIBILITY PILOT STUDY

Author Department

Cardiology; Healthcare Quality; Medicine

Document Type

Article, Peer-reviewed

Publication Date




Cardiac rehabilitation (CR) improves outcomes, yet early dropout is common. The purpose of the study was to determine whether a motivational telephone intervention among patients at risk for nonadherence would reduce early dropouts.


We performed a randomized double-blind pilot study with the intervention group receiving the telephone intervention 1 to 3 d after outpatient CR orientation. The control group received the standard of care, which did not routinely monitor attendance until 2 wk after orientation. The primary outcome was the percentage of patients who attended their second exercise session as scheduled. Secondary outcomes included attendance at the second CR session at any point and total number of sessions attended. Because not everyone randomized to the intervention was able to be contacted, we also conducted a per-protocol analysis.


One hundred patients were randomized to 2 groups (age 62 ± 15 yr, 46% male, 40% with myocardial infarction) with 49 in the intervention group. Patients who received the intervention were more likely to attend their second session as scheduled compared with the standard of care (80% vs 49%; relative risk = 1.62; 95% CI, 1.18-2.22). Although there was no difference in total number of sessions between groups, there was a statistically significant improvement in overall return rate among the per-protocol group (87% vs 66%; relative risk = 1.31; 95% CI, 1.05-1.63).


A nursing-based telephone intervention targeted to patients at risk for early dropout shortly after their CR orientation improved both on-time and eventual return rates. This straightforward strategy represents an attractive adjunct to improve adherence to outpatient CR.