Factors that influence obesity, functional capacity, anxiety and depression outcomes following a Phase III cardiac rehabilitation programme


Correspondence: Gabrielle McKee, Associate Professor, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland.

Telephone: +353 18962779.

E-mail: gmckee@tcd.ie


Aims and objectives

To examine changes in functional capacity, anxiety, depression and BMI in patients who completed a cardiac rehabilitation programme and to determine the influencing factors.


While the effectiveness of cardiac rehabilitation is long established, more studies are needed to examine the combined effectiveness of this multicomponent intervention and the factors that influence this in the changed profile of patients currently attending cardiac rehabilitation.


The study was a longitudinal retrospective study of patients following a six- or eight-week Phase III cardiac rehabilitation programme.


The study recruited 154 patients. Functional capacity, anxiety, depression, weight, waist circumference and BMI were assessed at the beginning and end of cardiac rehabilitation. t-tests were used to assess changes over time, and multivariate regression analysis was used to determine the influence of factors on these changes.


Significant improvements were seen in functional capacity, waist circumference, weight and BMI, but not in depression and anxiety. Multivariate analysis revealed that being younger and less fit was associated with greater improvements in functional capacity while reason for referral, gender, depression or BMI did not influence improvements in functional capacity. Models testing the influence of the factors on BMI, anxiety and depression were not significant.


Cardiac rehabilitation is still an effective method to instigate changes in cardiac risk factors despite the changes in patients profile attending programmes.

Relevance to clinical practice

Continued encouragement of the historically less typical patients to participate in cardiac rehabilitation is needed as reason for referral, gender, depression or BMI did not influence improvements in functional capacity. Despite psychosocial components within the programme, no significant improvements were observed over cardiac rehabilitation in depression or anxiety. While effectiveness was observed, there is room for further optimisation of practice and research by employing and documenting clearly the use of behavioural techniques.