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Scand J Public Health. 2008 Nov;36(8):818-26. doi: 10.1177/1403494808092249. Epub 2008 Aug 6.

Health service interventions targeting relatives of heart patients: a review of the literature.

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National Institute of Public Health, Copenhagen, Denmark.



Relatives of heart patients experience anxiety, uncertainty, and low quality of life, and the hospitalization of a heart patient is associated with increased risk of death for the partner. Relatives' physical and mental problems may be rectified by activities established by the health services to support relatives and to enable them to handle the situation. This study systematically reviewed the literature on the latest health service interventions targeting relatives of heart patients.


The literature about interventions targeting relatives of heart patients has been systematically reviewed to clarify what the health services do for relatives of heart patients and to assess the effects of interventions. We searched Medline, EMBASE, PsycINFO, CINAHL database, CSA and the Cochrane Library from January 2000 to March 2006.


Only six scientific articles reported on interventions testing health service activities for relatives of heart patients, and one literature review scrutinized earlier studies within the field. All the interventions indicate positive effects on patients' and/or relatives' health and well-being, in accordance with nurses' assessments. Nevertheless, the few studies and their questionable quality means that full evidence on the effects of the interventions is lacking.


Future research should clarify the evidence for health service interventions and draw up guidelines for activities for the relatives of heart patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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