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Families Dealing With Advanced Heart Failure: A Challenge and an Opportunity

Callahan, Helen E. MPM, BSN, RN


The epidemic nature of heart failure (HF), along with its pathophysiological and psychosocial complexities, results in the disease impacting both the patient and the family unit equally yet very differently. The degree of health and wellness of the patient with HF is most often quantified with percentages of coronary artery occlusion and ejection fraction, numbers of interventions, and levels of various laboratory values. Measures of psychosocial wellness of the patient have been minimally addressed, and the needs of the family unit have been essentially disregarded. This author proposes a family-centered approach built on the Friedman Family Assessment Model and Resiliency Model of Family Stress, Coping, and Adaptation to address the unique needs of the family dealing with advanced HF. This author also challenges advanced practice nurses dealing with patients and families with HF in any setting to consider further research in this area where so little information is available.

From the Allegheny General Hospital and the Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, Pa.

Corresponding author: Helen E. Callahan, MPM, BSN, RN, Allegheny General Hospital, Pittsburgh, PA 15202 (

© 2003 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.