Reasons for dropout in the transition from hospital to municipality during exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation in a Danish cross-sectorial setting: a qualitative study

Anders Ravnholt Schüsler Damlund*, Lars Bo Jørgensen, Birgitte Blume, Søren T Skou, Lars H Tang, Tom Møller

*Corresponding author for this work

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Objectives Despite documented benefits of cardiac rehabilitation (CR), attrition rates remain relatively high. Insights on patient perspectives concerning dropout during transition phases are deficient. This deeper understanding may help to inform on the perceived benefits and barriers in CR. This qualitative study explores the reasons why patients’ dropout during the transition from a hospital-based CR programme to local healthcare facilities.Setting A Danish hospital and seven local healthcare centres.Participants Twelve patients, who had dropped out of exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation (exCR) during the transition from hospital-based rehabilitation to local healthcare centres, were recruited to semistructured interviews based on a purposeful sampling.Results Important patient needs during rehabilitation was the ability to identify and reflect oneself in a group of peers in a safe, specialised hospital-based environment. At the transition point, the meaningfulness of continuation of CR was revaluated. Findings showed that reasons for discontinuation varied within individuals. It encompassed on a balanced choice of reassessing benefits against competing agendas as work demands versus expectations of benefits in a changed exercise environment and own exercise capabilities.Conclusion The study indicated that patient needs as timely relevance, a specialised safe environment and peer support are significant for participation in exCR. These needs may change during the transition stage due to competing agendas as work obligations and assessment of own ability to take control themselves. Perceived meaningfulness may be a major motivational driver for both initiating and making a judiciously choice of leaving an exCR programme.Data are available upon reasonable request. Transcribed anonymised interviews are available upon reasonable request.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere064660
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number11
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 29. Nov 2022


  • cardiology
  • qualitative research
  • rehabilitation medicine
  • Cardiac Rehabilitation
  • Exercise
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Denmark
  • Exercise Therapy

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