• cardiac rehabilitation;
  • illness perception;
  • patient-provider;
  • communication

This study investigated the dynamics of patient-provider communication in the cardiac rehabilitation (CR) referral process, to identify which aspects lead to CR participation. Semi-structured individual interviews were conducted with 31 patients eligible for CR. Questions probed the content and perception of the discussion that patients had with healthcare providers (HCP) regarding CR attendance. The interviews were audiotaped, transcribed, and imported into N6 software for grounded analyses. Key emerging themes were identified: illness perceptions; HCP encouragement; timing of discussion; and ease of referral. CR attenders were apt to self-advocate to ensure their enrollment in CR, whereas nonattenders were more likely to minimize the seriousness of their disease, and less likely to persevere to overcome obstacles in enrolling in a CR program. Surprisingly, the strength of the HCP referral did not influence the decision to attend CR as strongly when compared to the HCP's ability to facilitate enrollment in a CR program