A cultural and gender-based approach to understanding patient adjustment to chronic heart failure

Health Qual Life Outcomes. 2020 Jul 18;18(1):238. doi: 10.1186/s12955-020-01482-1.


Background: Persons identifying as Black, Chinese, or South Asian make up the largest minority groups in Canada. Individuals with chronic heart failure (CHF) from these groups experience a greater rate of re-hospitalization and poorer quality of life. Although experts agree that culture can shape the experience of CHF, little is known about how patients from these minority populations define a good quality of life with CHF and what barriers they experience when carrying out self-care behaviours. The aim of this qualitative study was to examine cultural and gender-based influences on quality of life in patients with CHF.

Methods: Purposive sampling included 30 patients (67% male), 18 to 75 years of age, who self-identified as Black (n = 8), Chinese (n = 9), or South Asian (n = 6). Caucasians (n = 7) were included as a comparison group. Semi-structured interviews (see the online appendix), lasting approximately 60 min, were conducted, which focused on personal understanding of CHF and living with the disease, including impact on lifestyle and quality of life. An inductive qualitative approach with thematic content analysis was used to develop key insights into individual experience of CHF, as well as cultural and gender-based influences on self-care and quality of life. Descriptive statistics were generated from questionnaire responses.

Results: Five key themes emerged from the narrative analysis of participant interviews: (i) CHF as an emergent reality, (ii) quality of life and disruption of lifecourse milestones, (iii) the challenge to accept CHF and re-evaluation of quality of life; (iv) impact on social activities essential to quality of life, and (v) life with CHF as a commitment to culturally tailored self-care. Participants described the unique impact of CHF on their quality of life, including life trajectory milestones such as dating, parenting, and retirement planning, as well as the importance of accepting their diagnosis, and the reframing goals for living well with heart failure. Positive and negative impacts on social relationships were noted, including sexual intimacy and interactions with spouses, other family members, and co-workers.

Conclusions: Study findings highlight important lifespan, cultural, and gender considerations that can inform the improvement of patient care and quality of life for patients and their families.

Keywords: Chronic heart failure; Cross-cultural; Gender; Quality of life; Self-care.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological*
  • Canada
  • Chronic Disease / psychology
  • Culturally Competent Care
  • Female
  • Heart Failure / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Qualitative Research
  • Quality of Life
  • Self Care / psychology
  • Sex Factors