- BACKGROUND: Enrollment in cardiac rehabilitation (CR) after coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery is suboptimal (25%-30%). OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of a nurse-initiated telephone call (NIC) on attendance at a CR intake appointment. METHODS: By using a retrospective cohort design, data were collected on 3536 patients who underwent CABG between April 1996 and March 2000 and were referred to CR. Of these, 2285 patients received standard care (no NIC) and 1251 received the NIC. RESULTS: Patients who received the NIC were significantly more likely to attend their CR intake appointment compared with standard care (78.1% vs. 50.1%; P < .0001). Hierarchic logistic regression analysis revealed the NIC as the strongest predictor of attendance at a CR intake explaining 56.9% of the total variance (odds ratio =3.429; 95% confidence interval = 2.919-4.028; P < .0001). CONCLUSION: These findings suggest that pre-appointment telephone contact by a cardiovascular nurse is a valuable tool to enhance attendance at a CR intake appointment after CABG.