Heart Pain and Anxiety Intervention

For those who are eligible, we are currently conducting research to develop and evaluate the needs for a user-friendly application for a smart phone called Heart () Pain and Anxiety Intervention [HE♥RT-PAiN-SMARTACS] for patients who live with heart disease.

What is it?

The purpose of this study is to conduct focus groups with people like you to discover what symptoms you want to be addressed to manage your pain. Possible interventions might include some education, distractions, games, music as examples, which would be all accessible on a SMART phone. We need your expert advice on how to build your intervention for your heart-related pain and anxiety.

Who is eligible?

This study targets ACS patients (individuals who have chest pain (unstable angina) and or have had a heart attack)

  • Adult ACS participants (all ages) who have (a) had ACS-related pain and/or anxiety, (b) confirmed heart disease by nuclear imaging or chemical /exercise stress test, (c) Canadian Cardiovascular Society Angina Score documented class I, II or III angina, and d) are able to read, speak and understand English will be eligible to participate.

What will you do?

You will be asked to do the following:


    1. Answer some questions about your employment status, income, marital status, previous health history, and medications that you are currently taking, questionnaires about your level of heart disease. This should take about 2-4 minutes, maximum.
    2. Grant permission to access your medical files in order to collect information regarding your:  Date of birth, age, medical diagnosis and related medical history, the details of your treatments that diagnosed your heart disease (for example electrocardiograms, cardiac catherizations, stress treadmill test results).


    • You have the choice of either to participate in a focus group interview of about 5-10 people with heart disease or an individual interview that will be conducted using a semi-structured, open-ended interview guide and will be tape recorded. Broad introductory questions will be asked about your experiences of heart disease and the kinds of symptoms you had with your chest pain.
    • We will ask you to help design the intervention in terms of the symptoms to be monitored (i.e. pain and anxiety) and the interactive components (i.e. distraction-music, gaming, relaxation breathing techniques) and preferred interface features of the app to include in the intervention.
    • Focus groups and interviews will be conducted in a meeting room at the Centre for Health and Wellness (the Heart Strong Program) at Brock University.
    • Secondarily, we will be conducting individual interviews to determine the acceptability of the proposed design of the intervention. You have the option of choosing either the first or second set of interviews.

Why do it?

    • There is no direct benefit for participants participating in phase 1 of this project.  However, for ACS patients and HCPs it may provide the ability to inform development and design a digital health care intervention for use in contemporary emergency departments. With sequential usability and feasibility testing of the proposed intervention, the HE♥RT-PAiN-SMART-ACS may have the potential to change the way in which heart attack related pain and associated symptoms are assessed and treated in emergency room settings and at home.
    • Secondarily, this intervention may assist our scientific community in particular, nurses and doctors with access to patients’ ongoing cardiac pain severity and anxiety levels with downloadable real time data capture.
  • Thirdly, overall the HE♥RT-PAiN-SMART-ACS intervention project has the potential to reduce unnecessary health and economic care burden and improve cardiovascular outcomes for those suffering with debilitating ACS.

If interested, please contact: Dr. Sheila O’Keefe-McCarthy at (905) 688-5550 x 6192 or sokeefemccarthy@brocku.ca

Or Study Research Assistant Vanessa Sjaarda at vs15lv@brocku.ca; or Karun Tandon at: karun.tandon@medportal.ca

This study has been reviewed and received ethics clearance through the Research Ethics Board of Brock University (REB) [FILE: 15-320 – O’KEEFE-MCCARTHY].