Social support and self-care in heart failure

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing, 2011, 26 (6), pp. 439 - 445
Issue Date:
2011-11-01
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Background and Objective: Self-care by heart failure (HF) patients is essential for optimal disease management of their condition. However, as the nature of HF is unrelenting and burdensome, self-care is usually achieved with the support of partners. It is not clear what role the level of social support by partners plays in HF self-care; therefore, this study sets out to determine the types of social support provided to HF patients and the impact of differing levels of social support on HF patients' self-care. Subjects and Method: This is secondary analysis of a subgroup of patients experiencing their second hospital admission for HF at baseline in the COACH study, a multisite trial conducted in the Netherlands. Measures included the European Heart Failure Self-care Behaviour Scale and a multiple component assessment of social support, which categorized patients into low, moderate, and high levels of social support according to the presence of a partner and their perception of support they received from their partner. Results and Conclusions: Patients (n = 333) had an average age of 72 (SD, 11) years, and 92% belonged to New York Heart Association class III or greater. Of the patients with partners (56%), only 49% had a high level of support from their partner. No demographic or clinical characteristic was associated with self-care behavior. Patients with a high level of support reported significantly better self-care (P = .002) than patients with low or moderate levels of social support. Patients with a high level of social support reported being significantly more likely to consult with a health professional for weight gain (P = .011), to limit the amount of fluids they have (P = .02), take their medication (P = .017), to get a flu shot (P = .001), and to exercise on a regular basis (P < .001) than those with medium or low levels of social support. The presence of social support by a partner is not sufficient to influence HF patients' self-care. Social support provided by partners needs to be of a quality and content that matches HF patients' perception of need to influence self-care. Caregivers, especially partners, should be considered as integral in the treatment and care of HF patients. Copyright © 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
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