HEART: heart exercise and remote technologies: a randomized controlled trial study protocol

Ralph Maddison, Robyn Whittaker, Ralph Stewart, Andrew Kerr, Yannan Jiang, Geoffrey Kira, Karen H Carter, Leila Pfaeffli
BMC Cardiovascular Disorders 2011, 11: 26

BACKGROUND: Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death worldwide. Cardiac rehabilitation (CR) is aimed at improving health behaviors to slow or reverse the progression of CVD disease. Exercise is a central element of CR. Technologies such as mobile phones and the Internet (mHealth) offer potential to overcome many of the psychological, physical, and geographical barriers that have been associated with lack of participation in exercise-based CR. We aim to trial the effectiveness of a mobile phone delivered exercise-based CR program to increase exercise capacity and functional outcomes compared with usual CR care in adults with CVD. This paper outlines the rationale and methods of the trial.

METHODS: A single-blinded parallel two-arm randomized controlled trial is being conducted. A total of 170 people will be randomized at 1:1 ratio either to receive a mHealth CR program or usual care. Participants are identified by CR nurses from two metropolitan hospitals in Auckland, New Zealand through outpatient clinics and existing databases. Consenting participants are contacted to attend a baseline assessment. The intervention consists of a theory-based, personalized, automated package of text and video message components via participants' mobile phones and the Internet to increase exercise behavior, delivered over six months. The control group will continue with usual CR. Data collection occurs at baseline and 24 weeks (post-intervention). The primary outcome is change in maximal oxygen uptake from baseline to 24 weeks. Secondary outcomes include post-intervention measures on self-reported physical activity (IPAQ), cardiovascular risk factors (systolic blood pressure, weight, and waist to hip ratio), health related quality of life (SF-36), and cost-effectiveness.

DISCUSSION: This manuscript presents the protocol for a randomized controlled trial of a mHealth exercise-based CR program. Results of this trial will provide much needed information about physical and psychological well-being, and cost-effectiveness of an automated telecommunication intervention. If effective, this intervention has enormous potential to improve the delivery of CR and could easily be scaled up to be delivered nationally (and internationally) in a very short time, enhancing the translational aspect of this research. It also has potential to extend to comprehensive CR (nutrition advice, smoking cessation, medication adherence).


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