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Keywords:

  • cardiac rehabilitation;
  • women in rehabilitation;
  • cardiovascular disease

The purpose of this study was to compare the cardiac rehabilitation referral and enrollment rates of men and women eligible for cardiac rehabilitation. A review of 202 hospital charts found that men and women were equally likely to be referred for cardiac rehabilitation, but women were significantly less likely to enroll (p > 0.05). Ten women who did not enroll and 20 women who did enroll were interviewed to determine factors that influenced their participation in the program. Major motives for enrolling included a desire to improve one's health and the strength of the physician's recommendation. Barriers to enrollment included concern for family members, transportation problems, physical limitations, and expense. Surprisingly, all of the women who did not enroll showed an interest when contacted after they were discharged from the hospital. Based on the findings of this study, it was recommended that cardiac rehabilitation staff telephone women after they are discharged to answer questions, clarify misconceptions, and encourage enrollment in a cardiac rehabilitation program.