Addressing the psycho-educational needs of caregivers of patients with advanced heart failure: a systematic review

Lorna Cassidy, Loreena Hill, Jennifer McGaughey, Eunice Greene, Donna Fitzsimons

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


Background: Caregivers play a significant role and contribute to the self-care of patients with heart failure. This can be at the expense of their own needs, with limited healthcare resources available to support or reduce caregiver burden. With the increased emphasis on family-cantered care there is an urgent need to provide effective psycho-educational care tailored to the needs of caregivers.

Aim: To determine the effectiveness of psycho-educational resources used within published intervention studies for caregivers and thereby inform the components of an intervention.

Methods: A systematic search of PsychInfo, Medline, CINAHL Plus, EMBASE, and SCOPUS databases, citations from relevant articles and expert recommendations was undertaken in November 2017. Randomised controlled trials published in English (2007-2017) with successful psychological outcomes on caregiver burden, caregiver strain, quality of life and depression were assessed. Titles and abstracts were screened, with 39 full texts of potential studies assessed by three independent reviewers. Nine studies were selected, and data was subsequently extracted using an inductive approach and methodological quality was assessed.

Results: Nine studies originating from six countries with a total sample size of 1239 participants were included. Qualitative synthesis of the findings identified four themes:

Improved communication by a multidisciplinary team: caregivers desired better communication on the patient’s current health status and future treatment plan. Involvement in key discussions and clinical decisions were desired.

Education on heart failure condition and symptoms: caregivers expressed the need for concise written information on how to monitor the patient’s heart failure symptoms and what to expect as the condition progresses. Timing of information was vital, with preference being prior to discharge and when the patient became palliative.

Impact of caring on everyday life: practical and problem-solving skills to enable the patient to maintain self-care were desired. Communication strategies to help caregivers interact positively with the patient was also considered important.

What to do when symptoms worsen: caregivers wanted knowledge of warning signs indicating deterioration and who, how and when to contact someone in an emergency.

Conclusions: Caregivers have an important and valuable role in the self-care of patients with heart failure. Multidisciplinary teams should involve caregivers in discussions and decisions about the patient’s condition. Further research is needed into an intervention amendable to everyday clinical practice.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 26 May 2018
EventHeart Failure 2018 & World Congress on Acute Heart Failure - Messe Wien Exhibition & Congress Center , Vienna, Austria
Duration: 26 May 201829 May 2018


ConferenceHeart Failure 2018 & World Congress on Acute Heart Failure


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