Improving support for heart failure patients: A systematic review to understand patients' perspectives on self-care

Melisa A. Spaling, Kay Currie, Patricia H. Strachan, Karen Harkness, Alexander M. Clark

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

56 Citations (Scopus)


Aims: This systematic review aimed to generate patient-focussed recommendations to enhance support of heart failure self-care by examining patients' experiences, perspectives and self-care behaviours. Background: Despite increased recognition of the importance of heart failure self-care, patients' knowledge and practices around this self-care and interventions to improve it are inconsistent. Consequently, current guidelines focus on what the domains of heart failure self-care are, more so than the ways to improve this care. Design: Systematic review and qualitative interpretive synthesis. Data sources: A systematic, comprehensive and detailed search of 11 databases was conducted until March, 2012 for papers published 1995-2012: 37 studies were included (1343 patients, 75 caregivers, 63 health care professionals) that contained a qualitative research component and data on adult patients' heart failure self-care. Review methods: This interpretive synthesis used a recognized approach consisting of a multi-stage analytic process; in addition, the included studies underwent quality appraisal. Results: Findings indicate that while patients could often recall health professionals' self-care advice, they were unable to integrate this knowledge into daily life. Attempts to manage HF were based on how patients 'felt' rather than clinical indicators of worsening symptoms. Self-efficacy and learning from past management experiences facilitated favourable outcomes - these enabled patients and caregivers to adeptly apply self-care strategies into daily activities. Conclusions: Addressing common but basic knowledge misconceptions regarding the domains of HF self-care is insufficient to increase effective HF self-care; this should be supplemented with strategies with patients and family members to promote self-efficacy, learning and adaptation/application of recommendations to daily life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2478-2489
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Advanced Nursing
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov. 2015


  • Chronic disease management
  • Complex interventions
  • Literature review
  • Meta-synthesis
  • Nursing
  • Qualitative
  • Self-management


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