Despite evidence from the broader caregiving literature about the interdependent nature of the caregiving dyad, few studies in heart failure (HF) have examined associations between caregiver and patient characteristics.
The aim of this study is to quantitatively synthesize the relationships between caregiver well-being and patient outcomes.
The MEDLINE, PsycINFO, and CINAHL databases were searched for studies of adult HF patients and informal caregivers that tested the relationship between caregiver well-being (perceived strain and psychological distress) and patient outcomes of interest. Summary effects across studies were estimated using random effects meta-analysis following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines.
A total of 15 articles meeting inclusion criteria were included in the meta-analysis. Taking into account differences across studies, higher caregiver strain was associated significantly with greater patient symptoms (Fisher z = 0.22, P < .001) and higher caregiver strain was associated significantly with lower patient quality of life (Fisher z = −0.36, P < .001). Relationships between caregiver psychological distress and both patient symptoms and quality of life were not significant. Although individual studies largely found significant relationships between worse caregiver well-being and higher patient clinical event-risk, these studies were not amenable to meta-analysis because of substantial variation in event-risk measures.
Clinical management and research approaches that acknowledge the interdependent nature of the caregiving dyad hold great potential to benefit both patients and caregivers.
Julie T. Bidwell, RN, BSN PhD Student, School of Nursing, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland.
Karen S. Lyons, PhD Associate Professor, School of Nursing, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland.
Christopher S. Lee, PhD, RN Associate Professor, School of Nursing, Oregon Health & Science University, and Oregon Health & Science University Knight Cardiovascular Institute, Portland.
This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Nursing Research (1F31NR014760).
The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute of Nursing Research or the National Institutes of Health.
The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.
Correspondence Julie T. Bidwell, RN, BSN, School of Nursing, Oregon Health & Science University, SN-ORD, 3455 SW US Veterans Hospital Road, Portland, OR 97239-2941 (email@example.com).