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Scand J Caring Sci. 2000;14(2):112-9.

Self-care behaviour of patients with heart failure.

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  • 1Department of Nursing Science, University of Maastricht, Maastricht, The Netherlands.


Heart failure-related self-care behaviour is important to optimize outcomes for patients with heart failure. Such behaviours include adherence to medication, diet and exercise, but self-care also refers to such things as seeking assistance when symptoms occur, and daily weighing. The study aim was to describe heart failure-related self-care behaviour, to test the effect of education and support on self-care behaviour and to discuss limitations. Data were collected from 128 heart failure patients during their hospital stay and at 1-, 3-, and 9-month follow-ups. Concepts from Orem's general theory of nursing were used to describe heart failure-related self-care behaviour and its limitations. The effects of intensive systematized and planned education from a nurse in hospital and at home were evaluated in an experimental design. Results showed that education enhanced self-care behaviour significantly at 1 and 3 months after discharge. Despite intensive education and support, patients did not manifest all self-care behaviours that might be expected. Patients in both the intervention and control groups described limitations in knowledge, judgement/decision-making and skills. It can be concluded that supportive-educative intervention is effective in enhancing heart failure-related self-care behaviour early after discharge. To optimize such intervention, more emphasis must be placed on behavioural strategies (e.g. self-medication), social support (e.g. from family members) and reinforcement (e.g. home visits).

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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