Objective: To assess a novel method for assessing risk and providing advice about activity to children and young people with congenital cardiac disease and their parents. Design and setting: Questionnaire survey in outpatient clinics at a tertiary centre dealing with congenital cardiac disease, and 6 peripheral clinics. Interventions: Children or their parents completed a brief questionnaire. If this indicated a desire for help, or a serious mismatch between advised and real level of activity, they were telephoned by a physiotherapist. Main measures of outcome: Knowledge about appropriate levels of activity, and identification of the number exercising at an unsafe level, the number seeking help, and the type of help required. Results: 253/258 (98.0%) questionnaires were returned, with 119/253 (47.0%) showing incorrect responses in their belief about their advised level of exercise; 17/253 (6.7%) had potentially dangerous overestimation of exercise. Asked if they wanted advice 93/253 (36.8%) said “yes”, 43/253 (17.0%) “maybe”, and 117/253 (46.2%) “no”. Of those contacted by phone to give advice, 72.7% (56/77) required a single contact and 14.3% (11/77) required an intervention that required more intensive contact lasting from 2 up to 12 weeks. Of the cohort, 3.9% (3/77) were taking part in activities that put them at significant risk. Conclusions: There is a significant lack of knowledge about appropriate levels of activity, and a desire for further advice, in children and young people with congenital cardiac disease. A few children may be at very significant risk. These needs can be identified, and clinical risk reduced, using a brief self-completed questionnaire combined with telephone follow-up from a suitably knowledgeable physiotherapist.
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