Self-efficacy, Psychosocial Factors, and Exercise Behavior in Traditional Versus Modified Cardiac Rehabilitation

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Self-efficacy and social support are established determinants of exercise adherence and have potential usefulness for tailoring independent exercise regimens for cardiac patients. Highly supervised traditional cardiac rehabilitation programs may be a barrier for independent exercise self-efficacy in low - and moderate-risk patients.


The authors evaluated changes in psychosocial measures including self-efficacy and social support in 80 cardiac patients with low to moderate risk randomized to a traditional cardiac rehabilitation protocol (TP) or modified protocol (MP). These measures also were assessed for their potential to predict subsequent exercise behavior.


The TP (n = 38) emphasized a supervised exercise regimen and included continuous electrocardiogram (ECG) monitoring for 3 months. The lower cost MP (n = 42) emphasized independent exercise and included group education/support meetings, and gradually weaned patients from continuous ECG monitoring and direct medical supervision.


Repeated measures analyses of variance indicated that MP patients had higher levels of self-efficacy for independent exercise without continuous ECG monitoring (P < .05). No other protocol differences were found. Multiple regression analyses using the pooled sample (excluding dropouts) indicated that self-efficacy for independent exercise was the only significant predictor of exercise over 6 months (R 2 = .28 [adjusted R 2 = .22]P < .01). In contrast to previous reports, social support for exercise was not a significant predictor of exercise behavior.


These findings suggest cardiac rehabilitation programs for low-and moderate-risk patients should emphasize educational and patient monitoring methods that promote patient self-efficacy for independent exercise. Programs that emphasize highly supervised exercise including longer term use of continuous ECG monitoring may impair self-efficacy for independent exercise. Longer-term studies are needed to fully determine the value of using psychosocial measures for designing individualized exercise programs and predicting long-term exercise behavior in cardiac patients.

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