Characteristics and views of family carers of older people with heart failure

Int J Palliat Nurs. 2006 Aug;12(8):380-9. doi: 10.12968/ijpn.2006.12.8.380.


Aims: to explore the characteristics and views of the family carers of older people with heart failure.

Method: 213 family carers of heart failure patients >60 years were recruited from UK general practitioner (GP) practices. Carer strain, quality of life (QOL) and service satisfaction questionnaires were completed every 3 months for 2 years, as well as 16 interviews with patients and carers, and 9 focus groups with health care professionals.

Results: 76% of carers were female, 70% were >60 years and 73% were spousal carers. Predictors of carer strain were symptoms of depression, age and patient NYHA. Predictors of lower QOL were: spousal carer; 2+ health conditions and symptoms of depression. Qualitative findings related to the change in circumstances, impact of responsibilities and health conditions of the family carers.

Conclusion: carers were mainly older women, often experiencing multiple health conditions. Addressing the practical and emotional support required presents a challenge for specialist palliative care in responding to calls for increased involvement in heart failure. A shared care model with liaison between specialist heart failure nurses, cardiologists, primary care teams and hospice services is advocated.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Aged
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Cost of Illness
  • Depression / psychology
  • England
  • Family / psychology*
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Health Status
  • Heart Failure / nursing*
  • Home Nursing / psychology
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Palliative Care
  • Qualitative Research
  • Quality of Life / psychology
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires