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Br J Gen Pract. 2007 Oct;57(543):801-7.

Psychological distress in primary care patients with heart failure: a longitudinal study.

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  • 1Department of General Practice, Georg-August-University of Göttingen, Germany. mschere@gwdg.de



Psychological distress is a common phenomenon in patients with heart failure. Depressive symptoms are often under-diagnosed or inadequately treated in primary care.


To analyse anxiety and/or depression in primary care patients with heart failure according to psychosocial factors, and to identify protective factors for the resolution of psychological distress.


Longitudinal observation study.


Primary care practices in lower Saxony, Germany.


In 291 primary care patients with heart failure the following factors were measured using validated questionnaires at baseline and 9 months later: anxiety and depression (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale [HADS]), quality of life (Minnesota Living with Heart Failure Questionnaire), coping with illness (Freiburg questionnaire for coping with illness), and social support (social support questionnaire). Severity of heart failure (New York Heart Association [NYHA] classification and Goldman's Specific Activity Scale), and sociodemographic characteristics were documented using self-report instruments.


Twenty-six (32.5%) of the 80 patients who were distressed at baseline had normal HADS scores 9 months later, while the remainder stayed distressed. In logistic regression, baseline distress (odds ratios [OR] 5.51; 95% confidence intervals [CI] = 2.56 to 11.62), emotional problems (OR = 1.08; 95% CI = 1.00 to 1.17), social support (OR = 0.54; 95% CI = 0.35 to 0.83), and NYHA classification (OR = 1.70; 95% CI = 1.05 to 2.77) independently predicted distress at follow up. High social support contributed to a resolution of anxiety or depression, while partnership and low levels of emotional problems protected patients who began the study in a good emotional state from psychological distress.


In everyday practice it is important to consider that a high NYHA classification and emotional problems may contribute to anxiety or depression, while high social support and living in a relationship may positively influence the psychological health of patients with heart failure.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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