Objectives: To develop a model of heart failure patients' attitudes, beliefs, expectations, and experiences based on published qualitative research that could influence the development of self-management strategies.
Methods: A synthesis of 19 qualitative research studies using the method of meta-ethnography.
Results: This synthesis offers a conceptual model of the attitudes, beliefs, and expectations of patients with heart failure. Patients experienced a sense of disruption before developing a mental model of heart failure. Patients' reactions included becoming a strategic avoider, a selective denier, a well-intentioned manager, or an advanced self-manager. Patients responded by forming self-management strategies and finally assimilated the strategies into everyday life seeking to feel safe.
Discussion: This conceptual model suggests that there are a range of interplaying factors that facilitate the process of developing self-management strategies. Interventions should take into account patients' concepts of heart failure and their subsequent reactions.
Keywords: Heart failure; attitudes; cardiac rehabilitation; experience; meta-ethnography; qualitative synthesis.