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Efficacy of interventions to increase physical activity for people with heart failure: a meta-analysis

Amirova, A., Fteropoulli, T., Williams, P. & Haddad, M. ORCID: 0000-0002-4822-5482 (2021). Efficacy of interventions to increase physical activity for people with heart failure: a meta-analysis. Open Heart, 8(1), e001687. doi: 10.1136/openhrt-2021-001687


Objectives: This meta-analysis aims to (1) evaluate the efficacy of physical activity interventions in heart failure and (2) to identify intervention characteristics significantly associated with the interventions’ efficacy.

Methods: Randomised controlled trials reporting intervention effects on physical activity in heart failure were combined in a meta-analysis using a random-effect model. Exploratory meta-analysis was performed by specifying the general approach (eg, cardiac rehabilitation), strategies used (eg, action planning), setting (eg, centre based), mode of delivery (eg, face to face or online), facilitator (eg, nurse), contact time and behavioural change theory use as predictors in the random-effect model.

Results: Interventions (n=21) had a significant overall effect (SMD=0.54, 95% CI (0.13 to 0.95), p<0.0005). Combining an exercise programme with behavioural change intervention was found efficacious (SMD=1.26, 95% CI (0.26 to 2.26), p<0.05). Centre-based (SMD=0.98, 95% CI (0.35 to 1.62), and group-based (SMD=0.89, 95% CI (0.29 to 1.50),) delivery by a physiotherapist (SMD=0.84, 95% CI (0.03 to 1.65),) were significantly associated with efficacy. The following strategies were identified efficacious: prompts/cues (SMD=3.29, 95% CI (1.97 to 4.62)), credible source (standardised mean difference, SMD=2.08, 95% CI (0.95;3.22)), adding objects to the environment (SMD=1.47, 95% CI (0.41 to 2.53)), generalisation of the target behaviour SMD=1.32, 95% CI (0.22 to 2.41)), monitoring of behaviour by others without feedback (SMD=1.02, 95% CI (0.05 to 1.98)), self-monitoring of outcome(s) of behaviour (SMD=0.79, 95% CI (0.06 to 1.52), graded tasks (SMD=0.73, 95% CI (0.22 to 1.24)), behavioural practice/rehearsal (SMD=0.72, 95% CI (0.26 to 1.18)), action planning (SMD=0.62, 95% CI (0.03 to 1.21)) and goal setting (behaviour) (SMD=0.56, 95% CI (0.03 to 1.08)).

Conclusion: The meta-analysis suggests intervention characteristics that may be suitable for promoting physical activity in heart failure. There is moderate evidence in support of an exercise programme combined with a behavioural change intervention delivered by a physiotherapist in a group-based and centre-based settings.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2021. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ. This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See:
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Healthcare Services Research & Management
Text - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial.

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