Informal caregivers' experiences of caring for patients with chronic heart failure: systematic review and metasynthesis of qualitative studies

J Cardiovasc Nurs. 2011 Sep-Oct;26(5):386-94. doi: 10.1097/JCN.0b013e3182076a69.


Background: Increasing evidence suggests that family support for patients with chronic heart failure (CHF) contributes greatly to the disease management of CHF. In addition, the quality of the CHF patient's close personal relationships can influence CHF outcomes. However, caregivers cannot provide care alone and need guidance, support, and skills to manage care that is often complex. In this article, we provide a review of studies that have explicitly investigated these issues of informal caregivers to CHF patients.

Objective: The objective of this study was to explore informal caregivers' views and experiences of caring for patients with CHF.

Methods: This is a systematic review and synthesis of qualitative studies describing informal caregivers' experiences in home-based care. Data sources were published literature written in English from electronic databases: PubMed, CINAHL (1982-2009), PsycINFO (1967-2009), EMBASE (1980-2009), and the Cochrane Library Database. Ten primary studies met the inclusion criteria.

Results: A number of themes emerged. Five key themes were identified from synthesis of the studies: sharing of caring, suffering from anxiety, being isolated, enjoying a good relationship, and searching for support.

Conclusions: Caring for persons with CHF can affect the well-being of their informal caregivers, which may ultimately have consequences for the CHF patient's health. Further studies are needed to clarify these issues and to examine the role of informal caregivers in the management of CHF.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Caregivers*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Heart Failure* / nursing
  • Humans