Issues in heart failure| Volume 38, ISSUE 3, P253-261, May 2009

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Are we teaching what patients need to know? Building skills in heart failure self-care

Published:January 22, 2009DOI:


      Heart failure (HF) self-care requires both knowledge and skill, but little attention has been given to identify how to improve skill in HF self-care. The objective was to assess what self-care skills patients with HF perceive that they need and how they developed the skills needed to perform self-care.


      Data from 85 adults with chronic HF enrolled in 3 prior studies were analyzed using qualitative descriptive meta-analysis techniques. Themes were reexamined using within study and across-study analyses and translated to create a broader and more complete understanding of the development of skill in HF self-care.


      Tactical and situational skills are needed to perform adequate self-care. Skill in self-care evolves over time and with practice as patients learn how to make self-care practices fit into their daily lives. Proficiency in these skills was acquired primarily through input from family and friends. Health care professionals rarely made significant contributions to the learning of essential skills.


      Traditional patient education does not support self-care skill development in patients with HF. New patient teaching strategies are needed that support the development of tactical and situational skills, foster coherence, and use trusted resources. Research testing coaching interventions that target skill-building tactics, such as role-playing in specific situations, are needed.
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