Background: Little is known about the factors that influence the health outcome of elderly patients suffering from heart failure or the health of their spouses. The aim of this comparative study was to determine if older patients suffering from heart failure and their spouses experience similar levels of health-related quality of life (HRQOL) and depression. The aim was also to identify those factors that contribute to HRQOL and depression in patient-spouse pairs.
Methods: Data were collected from 47 couples, using the Short Form 36 (SF-36) and Zung Self-rating Depression Scale (SDS) questionnaires.
Results: Patients suffering from heart failure and their spouses differed significantly in their experience of the physical, but not the mental, health-related quality of life, with patients experiencing significantly worse physical functioning. Physical symptoms of heart failure seemed to dominate the experience of the patient and was positively related to mental health and inversely related to the New York Heart Association classification (NYHA class) and patients' depression. Depressive symptoms as reflected in SDS showed no significant difference between patients and spouses. Patients' depression was positively related to high NYHA class, while spouse depression was positively related with higher age of the patient.
Conclusion: Physical symptoms seem to dominate the experience of heart failure.