Aims: To test the effect of education and support by a nurse on self-care and resource utilization in patients with heart failure.
Methods: A total of 179 patients (mean age 73, 58% male, NYHA III-IV) hospitalized with heart failure were evaluated prospectively. Patients were randomized to the study intervention or to 'care as usual'. The supportive educative intervention consisted of intensive, systematic and planned education by a study nurse about the consequences of heart failure in daily life, using a standard nursing care plan developed by the researchers for older patients with heart failure. Education and support took place during the hospital stay and at a home visit within a week of discharge. Data were collected on self-care abilities, self-care behaviour, readmissions, visits to the emergency heart centre and use of other health care resources.
Results: Education and support from a nurse in a hospital setting and at home significantly increases self-care behaviour in patients with heart failure. Patients from both the intervention and the control group increased their self-care behaviour within 1 month of discharge, but the increase in the intervention group was significantly more after 1 month. Although self-care behaviour in both groups decreased during the following 8 months, the increase from baseline remained statistically significant in the intervention group, but not in the control group. No significant effects on resource utilization were found.
Conclusions: Intensive, systematic, tailored and planned education and support by a nurse results in an increase in patients' self-care behaviour. No significant effects were found on use of health care resources. Additional organisational changes, such as longer follow-up and the availability of a heart failure specialist would probably enhance the effects of education and support.
Copyright 1999 The European Society of Cardiology.