Background: The troublesome symptoms experienced by patients with chronic heart failure are associated with diminished quality of life, frequent hospitalizations, and mortality.
Objectives: To describe the symptoms experienced by patients with heart failure, to detail the self-care strategies used by these patients in managing their symptoms, and to categorize the self-care strategies.
Methods: Six focus groups were used with 23 patients who had heart failure, along with six focus groups with 18 family members of the patients. Data analysis was performed by transcription of audiotape recordings of the group sessions and review of field notes.
Results: The patients reported a large number of troublesome symptoms, many consistent with past empirical findings, but some not reported in previous studies. Self-care strategies to manage the symptoms clustered into 11 categories.
Conclusions: Results from this study provided direction for future studies to (a) identify the prevalence, severity, and etiologies of the commonly reported symptoms, particularly cognitive impairment, loss of balance, and depression; (b) evaluate the emotions reported by women with heart failure; and (c) test the strategies as part of an intervention program to improve symptom management in patients with heart failure.