1. Chung, Sherrie MN, RN
  2. Candelaria, Dion MN, RN
  3. Gallagher, Robyn PhD, RN


Purpose: Exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation (EBCR) offers an opportunity to improve women's otherwise poorer outcomes from coronary heart disease compared with men. However, synthesized evidence for the benefits of EBCR for health-related quality of life (HRQL) is lacking for women. The current study addresses this gap.


Methods: Four electronic databases (PubMed, CINAHL, SCOPUS, and Cochrane) were searched for studies reporting HRQL using validated questionnaires in women attending EBCR. Two reviewers independently screened articles and extracted data. A random effects model was used for meta-analysis, where possible.


Results: Eleven studies (1237 women) were included, with seven suitable for meta-analyses. Participation in EBCR improved multiple domains of HRQL, with greatest improvements in Role Physical (mean differences [MD] = 19.09: 95% CI, 2.37-35.81), Physical Functioning (MD = 10.43: 95% CI, 2.60-18.27), and Vitality (MD = 9.59: 95% CI, 0.31-18.86) domains of the 12-Item Short Form Health Survey and the 36-Item Short Form Health Survey. Adding psychosocial components tailored for women to traditional EBCR produced further gains in HRQL in Bodily Pain (MD = 9.82: 95% CI, 4.43-15.21), Role Physical (MD = 8.48: 95% CI, 1.31-9.97), Vitality (MD = 8.17: 95% CI, 3.79-12.55), General Health (MD = 5.64: 95% CI, 1.31-9.97), and Physical Functioning (MD = 5.61: 95% CI, 0.83-10.40) domains.


Conclusions: Women attending EBCR achieve clinically meaningful improvements in multiple areas of HRQL, with added benefits when strategies were tailored to their needs. These benefits should be highlighted to promote EBCR uptake in women.