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J Cardiovasc Nurs. 2003 Jul-Aug;18(3):197-206; quiz 207-8.

Compliance behaviors of elderly patients with advanced heart failure.

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School of Nursing, University of California, Los Angeles Calif 90095-6918, USA.


Although compliance behaviors of heart failure (HF) patients have become the focus of increasing scrutiny in the last decade, the prevalence of noncompliance among elderly patients with HF is poorly understood. We conducted this study to describe and compare the compliance behaviors of elderly patients (> or = 65 years) and younger patients (< 65 years) with HF on 6 prescribed activities: medical appointments, medications, diet, exercise, smoking cessation, and alcohol abstinence. Data from a sample of 140 older (50%) and younger (50%) HF patients matched for genderand disease severity were collected with the HF Compliance Questionnaire and analyzed via descriptive statistics, chi-square, paired t-tests, and Pearson correlations. We found that elderly patients were more compliant with diet (77% vs 65%, p = .001) and exercise (67% vs 55%, p = .021) than were their younger counterparts. There was no difference in the other health care behaviors. Of the 70 elderly patients, 51% reported some degree of difficulty complying with exercise while 37%, 24%, and 23% had difficulty following diet, keeping follow-up appointments, and taking medications, respectively. A smaller percentage of elders continued to smoke (9%) and drink alcohol (18%). Patients were asked why they had difficulty following their health care regimens; responses varied by prescribed activity. Lastly, we found inverse relationships between perceived difficulty following and compliance with all of the 6 behaviors measured (p < .001); as difficulty increased, compliance decreased. Strategies to help older patients minimize perceived difficulties associated with health care regimens may improve compliance and long-term morbidity and mortality from HF. Assumptions about older age being related to noncompliance appear invalid in patients with HF.

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