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Eur J Cardiovasc Nurs. 2010 Sep;9(3):181-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ejcnurse.2009.12.001. Epub 2010 Jan 15.

The use of innovative methods designed to relieve social isolation in patients with chronic heart failure; volunteer befriending, forums and a newsletter.

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Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland, 65 North Castle Street, Edinburgh, EH2 3LT, United Kingdom.



Social isolation in patients with chronic heart failure (CHF) is an adverse prognostic factor. This paper reports the creation of a supportive patient/carer network (Heart Failure Support Service), led by a voluntary sector/National Health Service (NHS) partnership which involved volunteer befriending, regular patient and carer forum and a newsletter.


Over 3 years, 37 volunteers were 'befrienders' to over 50 individuals with CHF. A thorough training and matching process ensured that the first befriending visit was a positive experience. 100% of patients found the visits from the volunteer worthwhile and said they would recommend the service to other patients. Prior to the first patient-carer forum, 200 questionnaires were sent out with a 56% response rate, 44% of respondents believed that a forum and a newsletter would be valued. Over a period of 3 years, 12 quarterly meetings were held with an average attendance of 30-40 per meeting. The newsletter (current circulation >800 per quarter) contributed to self-management and encouraged communication between professionals and patients-carers.


The Heart Failure Support Service (volunteers, forum and newsletter) created a supportive patient-carer network and represents a successful voluntary sector/NHS partnership.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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