Engagement, Attendance and Current CHF Rehabilitation Practise in Australia

Miss Katie Palmer1,2, Dr Kelly-Ann Bowles1, Prof Rebecca Lane3, Dr Julia Morphet1

1Monash University, Frankston, Australia, 2Monash Health, Melbourne, Australia, 3Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia


Introduction: While exercise has been shown to improve quality of life and physical function and reduce hospital admission rates in people with Chronic Heart Failure (CHF), engagement is poor in condition specific rehabilitation programs.

Aims: This project aims to identify barriers to engagement in rehabilitation, strategies to address these, and comprehensively detail CHF rehabilitation practise in Australia.

Methods: An electronic survey with 49 questions was emailed to all cardiac and chronic heart failure rehabilitation programs in Australia utilising a publicly available database.

Results: The survey (n=165) was geographically representative of Australian CHF practise, with responses from all states and territories; including metropolitan, regional and remote locations. Common barriers were themed into three areas: poor health literacy, interrupted healthcare systems, and personal and external deterrents. Strategies to improve engagement and attendance focused mostly on the patient, including phone call follow ups, education, motivational interviewing and the use of family and carers. Programs generally appeared to follow current Australian Heart Foundation recommendations for CHF rehabilitation.

Conclusion: This survey identifies common barriers that need to be addressed to improve engagement and attendance levels in CHF rehabilitation programs. While patient barriers are already being addressed, strategic planning needs to occur to address poor health literacy including for medical and health professionals, improved flow through the healthcare system and improving the flexibility of program delivery.  Adaptation of home-based and tele-rehabilitation can help with this, while education and advertisement to patients and potential referrers needs to start early in the disease journey.


Katie Palmer is currently completing a PhD at Monash University in Melbourne, Victoria in the School of Primary and Allied Health Care. Her research is focused on improving engagement of people with Chronic Heart Failure with rehabilitation programs, by identifying and addressing the barriers this population faces.

Her passion for this research project stems from her current work as the physiotherapist for the Chronic Heart Failure rehabilitation program at Monash Health.