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Effectiveness of a self-care program in improving symptom distress and quality of life in congestive heart failure patients: a preliminary study

Shiao-Pei Wang, Li-Chan Lin, Chii-Ming Lee, Shiao-Chi Wu
Journal of Nursing Research: JNR 2011, 19 (4): 257-66

BACKGROUND: Prevalence of heart failure is increasing among older adults. Most heart failure patients experience distressing symptoms that lead to decreased physical functioning, poor quality of life, and a high incidence of rehospitalization. Health education about heart failure self-care (HFSC) is very important during hospitalization for these patients. However, lack of ongoing follow-up after discharge makes evaluation and disease management difficult. This is a significant problem in Taiwan.

PURPOSE: This study was undertaken to determine if participants with heart failure who were managed under the HFSC program had fewer distressing symptoms, better functional status, improved quality of life, and reduced hospital and emergency readmission rates compared with control group participants.

METHODS: This study used a quasi-experimental design with a control group that received usual care and an intervention group that received usual care plus the HFSC program. Twenty-seven participants were recruited from 2 cardiac general wards at 1 medical center in Taipei City, Taiwan, and were randomized into intervention (n = 14) and control (n = 13) groups.

RESULTS: : After 3 months, there were significant differences in symptom distress (p < .01), 6-minute walk test results (p < .01), and quality of life (using Short Form 36, Taiwan version, p < .05) between the HFSC and control groups but no significant differences in hospital readmission and emergency department visits.

CONCLUSIONS/IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: The HFSC program for patients with heart failure improved their heart failure symptoms and resulted in increased functional status and better quality of life. HFSC is a workable program in the clinical environment. Advanced nurse practitioners can use HFSC methods and principles to provide improved education and follow-up to heart failure patients.


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