Aims: Anxiety and depression are prevalent in 20% of patients with ischaemic heart disease (IHD); however, treatment of psychological conditions is not commonly integrated in cardiac rehabilitation (CR). Internet-based psychological treatment holds the potential to bridge this gap. To examine the feasibility of an eHealth intervention targeting anxiety and depression in patients with IHD attending CR.
Methods and results: We used a mixed-methods design, including quantitative methods to examine drop-out and change in anxiety and depression scores, and qualitative methods (thematic analysis) to evaluate patients’ and nurses’ experiences with the intervention. The therapist-guided intervention consisted of 12 modules provided via a web-based platform. The primary outcome was drop-out, with a drop-out rate <25% considered acceptable. Patients were considered as non-drop-out if they completed ≥5 modules. Out of 60 patients screened positive for anxiety and/or depression, 29 patients were included. The drop-out rate was 24% (7/29). Patients had a mean improvement in anxiety and depression scores of 5.5 and 4.6, respectively. On average, patients had 8.0 phone calls with their therapist and 19.7 written messages. The qualitative analysis of patients’ experiences identified four themes: treatment platform, intervention, communication with therapist, and personal experience. Patients were positive towards the intervention, although some found the assignments burdensome. From the nurses, we identified three themes: intervention, inclusion procedure, and collaboration with study team. The nurses were positive, however, due to limited time some struggled with the inclusion procedure.
Conclusion: Integrating an eHealth intervention in CR is feasible and the drop-out rate acceptable.