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Patients' experiences and perspectives regarding the use of digital technology to support exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation: a qualitative interview study


Patients' experiences and perspectives regarding the use of digital technology to support exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation: a qualitative interview study

Front Sports Act Living. 2024 Mar 18;6:1371652. doi: 10.3389/fspor.2024.1371652. eCollection 2024.


INTRODUCTION: Despite the well-known benefits of exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation for the secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease, participation in cardiac rehabilitation programmes and adherence to secondary prevention recommendations remain limited. Digital technologies have the potential to address low participation and adherence but attempts at implementing digital health interventions in real-life clinical practice frequently encounter various barriers. Studies about patients' experiences and perspectives regarding the use of digital technology can assist developers, researchers and clinicians in addressing or pre-empting patient-related barriers. This study was therefore conducted to investigate the experiences and perspectives of cardiac rehabilitation patients in Austria with regard to using digital technology for physical activity and exercise.

METHODS: Twenty-five current and former cardiac rehabilitation patients (18 men and 7 women, age range 39 to 83) with various cardiac conditions were recruited from a clinical site in Salzburg, Austria. Semi-structured qualitative interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. The analysis followed a descriptive phenomenological approach, applying the framework analysis method.

RESULTS: The sample was diverse, including interviewees who readily used digital devices to support their physical activity, exercise and health monitoring, and interviewees who did not. Simplicity, convenience and accessibility were highlighted as important facilitators for the use of digital technology, while annoyance with digital devices, concerns about becoming dependent on them, or simply a preference to not use digital technology were commonly stated reasons for non-use. Interviewees' views on data protection, data sharing and artificial intelligence revealed wide variations in individuals' prior knowledge and experience about these topics, and a need for greater accessibility and transparency of data protection regulation and data sharing arrangements.

DISCUSSION: These findings support the importance that is attributed to user-centred design methodologies in the conceptualisation and design of digital health interventions, and the imperative to develop solutions that are simple, accessible and that can be personalised according to the preferences and capabilities of the individual patient. Regarding data protection, data sharing and artificial intelligence, the findings indicate opportunity for information and education, as well as the need to offer patients transparency and accountability in order to build trust in digital technology and digital health interventions.

PMID:38567184 | PMC:PMC10986307 | DOI:10.3389/fspor.2024.1371652

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