Quality of Life in Patients with Heart Failure: Ask the Patients


BACKGROUND: Heart failure (HF) is a progressive clinical condition that results in substantial impairment of quality of life (QOL). Helping patients maintain optimal QOL is essential. QOL reflects patients' subjective perceptions about the impact of a clinical condition and its treatment on daily life; however, definitions in the literature vary widely and few reflect the patient's perspective.

PURPOSE: The study explored how patients with HF define and perceive QOL.

METHODS: Qualitative data were obtained from 14 men and 6 women with HF (mean age 58 +/- 10 years) using semistructured open-ended interviews. The interviews were analyzed using content analysis.

RESULTS: Patients with HF defined QOL as their ability to 1) perform desired physical and social activities to meet their and their family's needs; 2) maintain happiness; and 3) engage in fulfilling relationships with others. Patients perceived a variety of factors as positively or negatively affecting QOL: physical (symptoms and good or poor physical status), psychologic (mood and positive or negative perspective), economic (financial status), social (social support and ability for social activities), spiritual, and behavioral (self-care). Patients perceived that HF had a serious impact on QOL, but most evaluated their QOL as good nonetheless.

CONCLUSION: Patients' definition of QOL reflected not only the impact of HF on their daily life but also their active pursuit of happiness. Patients' self-evaluation of QOL reflected the negative impact of HF and patients' altered expectations of what constituted good QOL.

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Published in Heart & Lung: The Journal of Acute and Critical Care, v. 38, issue 2, p. 100–108.

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