What do we know about adherence and self-care?

J Cardiovasc Nurs. 2008 May-Jun;23(3):250-7. doi: 10.1097/01.JCN.0000317428.98844.4d.


Despite advances in healthcare, heart failure patients continue to experience complications that could have been prevented or treated. This occurs because the only way that a therapeutic or preventive regimen can be effective, assuming that the patient's condition has been accurately diagnosed and appropriately treated, is if the patient implements self-care behaviors and adheres to the treatment regimen. However, it is widely accepted that this does not occur in many or even most instances. This article provides an overview of the current evidence related to adherence and self-care behaviors among heart failure patients and describes the state of the science on interventions developed and tested to enhance self-care maintenance in this population. Our review of literature shows that effective interventions integrate strategies that motivate, empower, and encourage patients to make informed decisions and assume responsibility for self-care. Gaps in current evidence support the need for additional research on ways to improve adherence and self-care for patients who are at an increased risk of poor adherence, including those with cognitive and functional impairments and low health literacy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging
  • Health Behavior*
  • Heart Failure / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Nurse's Role*
  • Patient Compliance*
  • Patient Education as Topic*
  • Self Care / methods*
  • Social Support