The Space From Heart Disease Intervention for People With Cardiovascular Disease and Distress:A Mixed-Methods Study

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Background: Poor self-management of symptoms and psychological distress leads to worse outcomes and excess health service use in cardiovascular disease (CVD). Online-delivered therapy is effective, but generic interventions lack relevance for people with specific long-term conditions, such as cardiovascular disease.
Objective: To develop a comprehensive online CVD-specific intervention to improve both self-management and well-being, and to test acceptability and feasibility.
Methods: Informed by the Medical Research Council (MRC) guidance for the development of complex interventions, we adapted an existing evidence-based generic intervention for depression and anxiety for people with CVD. Content was informed by a literature review of existing resources and trial evidence, and the findings of a focus group study. Think-aloud usability testing was conducted to identify improvements to design and content. Acceptability and feasibility were tested in a cross-sectional study.
Results: Focus group participants (n=10) agreed that no existing resource met all their needs. Improvements such as "collapse and expand" features were added based on findings that participants’ information needs varied, and specific information, such as detecting heart attacks and when to seek help, was added. Think-aloud testing (n=2) led to changes in font size and design changes around navigation. All participants of the cross-sectional study (10/10, 100%) were able to access and use the intervention. Reported satisfaction was good, although the intervention was perceived to lack relevance for people without comorbid psychological distress.
Conclusions: We have developed an evidence-based, theory-informed, user-led online intervention for improving self-management and well-being in CVD. The use of multiple evaluation tests informed improvements to content and usability. Preliminary acceptability and feasibility has been demonstrated. The Space from Heart Disease intervention is now ready to be tested for effectiveness. This work has also identified that people with CVD symptoms and comorbid distress would be the most appropriate sample for a future randomized controlled trial to evaluate its effectiveness.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere81
Number of pages17
JournalJMIR research protocols
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2015


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