Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Psychological Sciences

First Advisor

Anthony Conger

Committee Chair

Anthony Conger

Committee Member 1

David Rolllock

Committee Member 2

Susan South

Committee Member 3

Elaine Willerton


Individuals with cardiovascular disease are at an increased risk for anxiety, depression, stress, and other negative cognitive processes. Following a cardiovascular event such as a myocardial infarction or open heart surgery, cardiac rehabilitation (CR) can have large physical and psychological benefits. This study investigates the role of depression, anxiety, and rumination on CR outcomes including program completion and fitness improvements. Fifty-one patients with cardiovascular disease who were enrolled in CR were tracked over the course of their treatment. Objective fitness testing was completed prior to and after CR program completion. Self-reported psychological, health, and fitness data were gathered at weeks 1, 3 and 8 of CR for each participant. In this study, CR drop-out was predicted by participants who had poorer emotional well-being, better self-rated general health, and lower levels of rumination. Initial physical functioning was predicted by depression, while post physical functioning was predicted by both rumination and anxiety. Participants also reported significant health, fitness, and psychological improvements over the course of CR. Overall, this study demonstrates the positive effects of CR on wellness. While depression and anxiety had a negative impact on fitness and program completion, higher levels of rumination were associated with more positive outcomes in terms of program completion and final physical fitness.