BackgroundCardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of premature death and disability in Europe, accounting for 4 million deaths per year and costing the European Union economy almost €196 billion annually. There is strong evidence to suggest that exercise-based secondary rehabilitation programs can decrease the mortality risk and improve health among patients with CVD. Theory-informed use of behavior change techniques (BCTs) is important in the design of cardiac rehabilitation programs aimed at changing cardiovascular risk factors. Electronic health (eHealth) is the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) for health. This emerging area of health care has the ability to enhance self-management of chronic disease by making health care more accessible, affordable, and available to the public. However, evidence-based information on the use of BCTs in eHealth interventions is limited, and particularly so, for individuals living with CVD.ObjectiveThe aim of this systematic review was to assess the application of BCTs in eHealth interventions designed to increase physical activity (PA) in CVD populations.MethodsA total of 7 electronic databases, including EBSCOhost (MEDLINE, PsycINFO, Academic Search Complete, SPORTDiscus with Full Text, and CINAHL Complete), Scopus, and Web of Science (Core Collection) were searched. Two authors independently reviewed references using the software package Covidence (Veritas Health Innovation). The reviewers met to resolve any discrepancies, with a third independent reviewer acting as an arbitrator when required. Following this, data were extracted from the papers that met the inclusion criteria. Bias assessment of the studies was carried out using the Cochrane Collaboration's tool for assessing the risk of bias within Covidence; this was followed by a narrative synthesis.ResultsOut of the 987 studies that were identified, 14 were included in the review. An additional 9 studies were added following a hand search of review paper references. The average number of BCTs used across the 23 studies was 7.2 (range 1-19). The top three most frequently used BCTs included information about health consequences (78%, 18/23), goal setting (behavior; 74%, 17/23), and joint third, self-monitoring of behavior and social support (practical) were included in 11 studies (48%, 11/23) each.ConclusionsThis systematic review is the first to investigate the use of BCTs in PA eHealth interventions specifically designed for people with CVD. This research will have clear implications for health care policy and research by outlining the BCTs used in eHealth interventions for chronic illnesses, in particular CVD, thereby providing clear foundations for further research and developments in the area.