▪ Objective: To evaluate the effectiveness of practice guidelines for return to work after acute myocardial infarction when disseminated from a university-based setting to a practice-based setting.
▪ Design: Randomized clinical trial.
▪ Patients: A total of 187 patients with uncomplicated acute myocardial infarction.
▪ Intervention: Patients were randomly assigned to the intervention (n = 95) or to usual care (n = 92). The intervention consisted of a treadmill test, a counseling session based on the test results, and a consultation letter from a cardiologist to the primary care physician. Individualized recommendations for the timing of return to work, contained in the consultation letter, were based on the patient's risk for recurrent cardiac events.
▪ Measurements: Questionnaire, chart review, and a phone interview documented the timing of return to work and the rates of cardiac death, coronary angioplasty, coronary artery surgery, and recurrent myocardial infarction.
▪ Results: Median intervals between acute myocardial infarction and return to work were similar in both groups (intervention, 54 days; usual care, 67 days; P > 0. 2). Among patients without myocardial ischemia, however, the interval was shorter in the intervention group than in the usual care group (38 days compared with 65 days, respectively, P = 0.008). Among patients with myocardial ischemia, intervals were similar in both groups (80 days compared with 76 days, respectively, P > 0.2).
▪ Conclusion: Practice guidelines developed in a university-based setting were not as successful in hastening return to work after uncomplicated acute myocardial infarction when tested in a practice-based setting. Physicians' reluctance to follow guidelines for patients with myocardial ischemia reflected their concern with prognosis even though medical outcome was good.