COLUMBUS, Ohio Heart patients with beliefs about health that aren't based on medical evidence are more likely to skip sessions of cardiac rehabilitation, new research suggests.
In the Ohio State University study, a higher number of these beliefs referred to as "irrational health beliefs" on a standard measure of these thoughts was associated with lower adherence to a prescribed cardiac rehab program.
Among the irrational beliefs assessed: Doubting the preventive power of the flu vaccine or believing, based on family history alone, that it's safe to smoke cigarettes and carry excess weight after a doctor's warning about health risks linked to these behaviors.
Beyond these beliefs, a few demographic factors influenced adherence to a rehabilitation program. On average, older participants and those with higher incomes attended a higher percentage of sessions, while African Americans, on average, attended a smaller percentage of sessions than did whites.
Among those factors, African-American patients were more likely than white participants to have a higher number of irrational health beliefs.
"These beliefs about health haven't been looked at in a cardiac population before," said Charles Emery, professor of psychology at Ohio State and senior author of the study.
"Most patients referred to cardiac rehab have been sedentary. Though they are in a supportive environment, exercise is still not necessarily pleasant and can be painful from time to time. So it's important to examine factors that might negatively influence them and then intervene to address those factors in this case, their irrational health beliefs."
Emery conducted the research with Derek Anderson, lead author and a doctoral candidate in psychology at Ohio State. The study is scheduled to appear in an upcoming issue of the journal Health Psychology, and is currently available online.
Improving adherence to a rehabili
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Ohio State University