Date of this Version


Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Details

Published version

Abell, B., Glasziou, P., Briffa, T., & Hoffmann, T. (2016). Exercise training characteristics in cardiac rehabilitation programmes: A cross-sectional survey of Australian practice. Open Heart, 3(1), e000374.

Access the journal

© Copyright, The Authors, 2016

Distribution License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License





Exercise training is a core component of cardiac rehabilitation (CR), however, little information exists regarding the specific exercise interventions currently provided for coronary heart disease in Australian practice. We aimed to analyse the current status of exercise-based CR services across Australia.


Cross-sectional survey.


Australian sites offering exercise-based CR were identified from publically available directories. All sites were invited by email to participate in an online Survey Monkey questionnaire between October 2014 and March 2015, with reminders via email and phone follow-up. Questions investigated the demographics and format of individual programmes, as well as specific exercise training characteristics.


297 eligible programmes were identified, with an 82% response rate. Most sites (82%) were based at hospital or outpatient centres, with home (15%), community (18%) or gym-based options (5%) less common. While CR was most often offered in a comprehensive format (72% of sites), the level of exercise intervention varied greatly among programmes. Most frequently, exercise was prescribed 1–2 times per week for 60 min over 7 weeks. Almost one-quarter (24%) had a sole practitioner supervising exercise, although the majority used a nurse/physiotherapist combination. Low to moderate exercise intensities were used in 60% of programmes, however, higher intensity prescriptions were not uncommon. Few sites (


While advances have been made towards providing flexible and accessible exercise-based CR, much of Australia's service remains within traditional models of care. A continuing focus on service improvement and evidence-based care should, therefore, be considered a core aim of those providing exercise for CR in order to improve health service delivery and optimise outcomes for patients.



This document has been peer reviewed.


To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.