Patient and informal caregivers' knowledge of heart failure: necessary but insufficient for effective self-care

Eur J Heart Fail. 2009 Jun;11(6):617-21. doi: 10.1093/eurjhf/hfp058. Epub 2009 May 4.


Aims: Self-care of heart failure (HF) is a process that is important, complex, and challenging. Little is understood of the contextual factors influencing self-care. We aimed to examine the individual and contextual factors perceived by patients and their informal caregivers' to influence their willingness and capacity to undertake effective HF self-care.

Methods and results: This was a qualitative study using semi-structured interviews with 42 patients with HF (NYHA Class II and III, mean age: 76 years, 64% males) and 30 nominated caregivers (63% spouses). All patients experienced severe and intrusive HF symptoms; a large proportion of patients practiced some of the range of recommended self-care activities. However, links between knowledge of HF and self-care were weak and long delays in seeking professional care were frequent. Factors consistently reported to influence self-care were faith in health professionals, beliefs about the local health system, and values linked to work associated with place, history, and culture.

Conclusion: Knowledge of HF and its management is a necessary though not sufficient determinant of HF self-care. Individual and contextual factors influence willingness and capacity to undertake effective HF self-care.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alberta
  • Caregivers / standards*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Heart Failure / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patient Compliance
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods*
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Self Care / methods*
  • Self Care / standards
  • Surveys and Questionnaires