Perceptions of Cardiology Administrators About Cardiac Rehabilitation in South America and the Caribbean

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Abstract

Background:

Cardiac rehabilitation (CR) programs can address the cardiovascular disease epidemic in South America. However, there are factors limiting CR access at the patient, provider, and system levels. The latter 2 have not been extensively studied. The objective of this study was to investigate cardiology administrator's awareness and knowledge of CR and perceptions regarding resources for CR.

Methods:

This study was cross-sectional and observational in design. Cardiology administrators from South American and Caribbean countries were invited to participate by members of a professional association. Participants completed a questionnaire online. Descriptive analysis was performed and differences in CR knowledge, awareness, perception, and attitudes regarding CR were described overall, by institution funding source (private vs public) and presence of within-institution CR (yes vs no).

Results:

Most of the 55 respondents from 8 countries perceived CR as important for outpatient care (mean ± SD = 4.83 ± 0.38 out of 5; higher scores indicating more positive perceptions), with benefits including reduced hospital readmissions (4.31 ± 0.48) and length of stay (4.64 ± 0.71 days), not only for cardiac patients but for those with other vascular conditions (4.34 ± 0.68 days). Those working in public institutions (50.9%) and in institutions without a CR program (25.0%) were not as aware of, and less likely to value, CR services (P < .05). Only 13.2% of programs had dedicated funding.

Conclusions:

Similar to findings from high-income settings, cardiology administrators and cardiologists in South America value CR as part of cardiac patient care, but funding and availability of programs restrict capacity to deliver these services.

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