Article Abstract

Barriers physicians face when referring patients to cardiac rehabilitation: a narrative review

Authors: Carol Elsakr, David A. Bulger, Sherif Roman, Irene Kirolos, Rami N. Khouzam

Abstract

While cardiac rehabilitation (CR) has been shown to be a beneficial form of secondary prevention for patients with cardiovascular disease, barriers of referral to CR still exist for patients. Barriers that specifically make it difficult for physicians to make the referral could be worthwhile to examine. This narrative review hypothesizes that increasing awareness and education on the various aspects of CR as well as simplifying the referral process could lead to increased referral rates as they target physician-related barriers. This narrative review seeks to further understand the physician-related barriers of low CR awareness and hindering referral processes. A search in Scopus was conducted with preference for articles examining CR referral strategies used by physicians; physicians’ awareness of CR programs; physicians’ perceptions, beliefs, or knowledge of the benefits of CR; or physicians’ experience with or understanding of the selection process of CR programs, including indications for referral. Two systematic reviews and two observational studies were selected for discussion. Three of the selected studies had findings supporting the notion that increasing physicians’ awareness of CR could impact referral rates. One of the studies evaluated the perceptions that physicians and CR programs had on various referral strategies. While more study is needed to assess the actual level of knowledge and awareness physicians have regarding CR, this review supports using educational interventions as well as targeting various aspects of the referral process for improving referral rates.