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cardiac rehabilitation, mutual aid model, occupational therapist, psychosocial issues, social worker



  1. Arndt, Maryse BAppSc(OT)
  2. Murchie, Fiona BA(Syd), BSW(Syd)
  3. Schembri, Anthony M. GradDipPubAdmin MPP (USyd), BSW(UNSW), MAASW(Acc)
  4. Davidson, Patricia M. PhD, MEd, RN, ITC, FRCNA


Background: Dealing with psychological and social issues is an important aspect of comprehensive cardiac rehabilitation (CR) programs.


Study aim: This study aims to evaluate the use of an open-group mutual aid model facilitated by a social worker and occupational therapist in a secondary prevention CR program.


Method: A mixed-method study, using questionnaires, focus group data, and reflective interviews of group facilitators, was used to evaluate the program.


Study findings: Key themes emerging from this study were (1) the need for provision of hope; (2) a desire for structure and support; (3) appreciation of support of fellow group participants; and (4) the need for individuals to review, process, and interpret their illness trajectory.


Conclusions: In this single site study, an open-group model using a mutual aid model was acceptable and helpful as a method to facilitate adjustment after an acute cardiac event. Further evaluation of this approach using experimental methods is warranted.