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Evaluation of an early discharge service for cardiac rehabilitation at home Dal-Santo, Mary Gail


This study evaluates the outcomes of a hospital-based cardiac rehabilitation program designed to deliver the first phase of cardiac rehabilitation services at home. The program was established in a community hospital in 1985, operating under the administration of the hospital's Medical Day Centre. Patients suffering from acute myocardial infarction (MI) are referred to the program by their physician and receive services from a cardiac nurse specialist immediately upon discharge. The services continue for a period of 6 weeks. The outcomes of importance in the study are the effects of the program on hospital services in the initial 10 month period and on patient's health related behaviour 3 months post infarction. Results of the study indicate that program goals were achieved during the initial 10 months of the study. Physicians referred 92% of the eligible patients and the average length of stay (ALOS) in hospital was satisfactorily reduced. For patients with uncomplicated MI the ALOS was 8.6 days by the tenth month. At 3 month follow up, patients reported significant improvements over their pre infarction health related behaviour. There were significant increases in the frequency of light exercise (p<-0005), in the regular use of low fat dairy products (p=.0003) and in the practice of restricting calories (p=.003) while significant decreases were reported in the frequency of consuming fried foods (p<.0005), salted foods (p<.0005) and rich foods (p<.005) and in the regular use of table salt (p=.00003). Smoking cessation was reported by 50% of the smokers at follow up. Patients reported a high level of satisfaction with the program, describing the service as well timed, informative, practical and valuable in restoring their self confidence. While these results were satisfactory with regards to the program goals, the evaluation was based on a single group design and further investigation is desirable with comparisons between hospitals and between patients with and without exposure to the program.

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