Caregivers of Patients Considering a Destination Therapy Left Ventricular Assist Device and a Shared Decision-Making Intervention: The DECIDE-LVAD Trial

JACC Heart Fail. 2018 Nov;6(11):904-913. doi: 10.1016/j.jchf.2018.06.019. Epub 2018 Oct 10.


Objectives: This study aims to characterize caregivers of patients considering destination therapy left ventricular assist device (DT-LVAD) and evaluate the effectiveness of a shared decision-making (SDM) intervention.

Background: Caregivers play an integral role in the care of patients with chronic illness. At the extreme, pursuing a DT-LVAD is a major preference-sensitive decision that requires high-level caregiver engagement. Yet, little is known about caregivers of patients considering DT-LVAD, and there is a paucity of research on the involvement of caregivers in medical decision-making.

Methods: A 6-center, stepped-wedge trial was conducted. After varying time in usual care (control), sites were transitioned to an SDM intervention consisting of staff education and pamphlet and video decision aids (DAs). The primary outcome was decision quality, measured by knowledge and values-choice concordance.

Results: From 2015 to 2017, 182 caregivers of patients considering DT-LVAD were enrolled (control group, n = 111; intervention group, n = 71). The median age was 61 years, 86.5% were female, and 75.8% were spouses. Caregiver knowledge (0% to 100%) improved from baseline to post-education in both groups: in the control group it improved from 64.2% to 73.3%; in the intervention group it improved from 62.6% to 76.4% (adjusted difference of difference: 4.8%; p = 0.08). At 1 month, correlation between stated values and caregiver-reported treatment choice was stronger in the intervention group (difference in Kendall's tau: 0.36, 95% confidence interval: 0.04 to 0.71; p = 0.03). Caregivers reported decisional conflict (0 to 100) at baseline (control group: 19.0 ± 2.1; intervention group: 21.4 ± 2.6), which decreased post-education more in the control group (control group: 9.0 ± 1.9, intervention group: 18.8 ± 2.4; p = 0.009). Caregivers in the control group were more likely to "definitely recommend" the educational materials than those in the intervention group (93.5% vs. 74.5%, respectively; p = 0.004).

Conclusions: An SDM intervention improved concordance between caregiver values and treatment choice for their loved ones but did not significantly impact knowledge. Caregivers found the DAs less acceptable than more biased educational materials and exposure to DAs led to higher conflict initially. These findings highlight the complexity of SDM involving caregivers of patients with chronic illness. (PCORI-1310-06998 Trial of a Decision Support Intervention for Patients and Caregivers Offered Destination Therapy Heart Assist Device [DECIDE-LVAD]; NCT02344576).

Keywords: caregiving; end-of-life care; mechanical circulatory support; patient decision aids; shared decision making; ventricular assist device.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Caregivers / education
  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Decision Making*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Heart Failure / psychology
  • Heart Failure / surgery
  • Heart-Assist Devices / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods
  • Spouses / education
  • Spouses / psychology

Associated data