Goal Attainment in a Randomized Controlled Trial of Rehabilitation After Myocardial Infarction
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PURPOSE: Goal setting is an established strategy in health behavior change programs although its usefulness remains uncertain. The authors investigate the validity of attainment of a patient-identified goal as an outcome measure in cardiac rehabilitation after myocardial infarction. METHODS: On entry into a randomized controlled trial of cardiac rehabilitation after an acute myocardial infarction, patients identified one activity that, if and when attained, would reflect their perception of a successful recovery. Patients reported whether they had attained their goal and the time of goal attainment. This was then related to trial outcomes that included generic and specific health-related quality of life and percent predicted exercise tolerance. RESULTS: Goals identified by 180 of the 201 (89.6%) patients, were attained by 51.5% at 8 weeks and by 86.5% at 12 months. At the end of the 8-week intervention, there was a substantial trend for fewer rehabilitation than usual care patients to have attained their identified goal (P < 0.06), although rehabilitation patients demonstrated greater improvement in specific health-related quality of life and exercise tolerance than usual care patients (P < 0.05). Among patients who identified a recreational physical activity goal (26.7%), significantly fewer (P < 0.007) rehabilitation than usual care patients had attained their goal at the end of the intervention with no differences in improvement in outcomes. CONCLUSIONS: Although improvement in outcomes was greater in rehabilitation patients than usual care patients at 8 weeks, goal attainment, particularly for the recreational physical activity goal, was greater among usual care patients. The validity of self-identified activity goal attainment as a measure of the efficacy of cardiac rehabilitation is unclear and might give misleading results.
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