Despite evidence that cardiac rehabilitation (CR) can be effective, the active ingredients or behaviour change techniques (BCTs) constituting effective CR remain unclear. There is also a lack of research surrounding patient and facilitator perceptions of active ingredients. This study sought to identify the active ingredients of a community-based CR programme and explore patient and facilitator perceptions of the active ingredients.
A multimethod design conducted in two stages, a BCT coding stage and a qualitative stage.
The BCT coding stage involved the observation and audio recording of ten sessions from a community-based CR programme and the collection of programme materials. Data were coded using the BCT Taxonomy version 1 (Ann Behav Med, 46, 2013, 81). During the qualitative stage, six focus groups were carried out separately with patients (n = 16) and facilitators (n = 4). Qualitative data were analysed using an inductive thematic analysis.
The BCT coding phase identified 34 BCTs, many of which were highlighted by patients and facilitators. Patients and facilitators felt the group effort, motivation provided by facilitators, individualized care, knowledge gained, acceptance, and fear reduction enabled change. The majority of BCTs identified in the qualitative stage were also identified in the BCT coding stage, excluding a component related to self-acceptance. Facilitators felt the programme was limited by duration and inadequate psychological support.
The study provides a comprehensive overview of objectively coded BCTs and perceived active ingredients of CR. The findings can be used to inform future refinement and improvement of CR.