The Role of Palliative Care in Heart Failure, Part 1: Referring Provider Perspectives About Opportunities in Advanced Cardiac Therapies

J Palliat Med. 2023 Dec;26(12):1671-1677. doi: 10.1089/jpm.2022.0595. Epub 2023 Oct 25.


Background: There are many ways that palliative care can support patients with heart failure, but the role of palliative care in supporting patients who are considering or are already using advanced cardiac therapies is less clear. Objective: To understand referring providers' perspectives about the role of palliative care in the treatment of patients with heart failure considering or using advanced cardiac therapies. Design: Qualitative study using a semistructured interview guide. Setting/Subjects: This study was conducted at an academic medical center in the United States with an integrated cardiac palliative care program. Interviews were conducted with cardiology providers, including cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, and nurse practitioners who care for patients with heart failure and who are considering or receiving advanced cardiac therapies. Measurements: Interview transcripts were analyzed deductively and inductively to reveal themes in providers' perspectives. Results: Five themes were identified about the role of palliative care when advanced therapies were considered or being used: (1) educating patients; (2) supporting goal-concordant care; (3) managing symptoms; (4) addressing psychosocial needs; and (5) managing end-of-life care. Providers suggested palliative care could be a facilitator of advanced therapies, rather than merely something to add to end-of-life care. Conclusions: Cardiology providers recognize the value of integrating palliative care across the heart failure disease trajectory to provide therapy options, support decision-making processes, and provide goal-concordant care for patients considering or receiving advanced therapies. Increasing awareness of opportunities to integrate palliative care throughout the treatment of these patients may help cardiology providers better coordinate with palliative care specialists to improve patient care.

Keywords: heart failure; heart failure therapy; heart transplantation; heart-assist devices; palliative care.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Heart Diseases*
  • Heart Failure* / therapy
  • Hospice Care*
  • Humans
  • Palliative Care
  • Terminal Care*
  • United States