Caregiver contribution to heart failure (HF) self-care maintenance and management is important in HF care. Literature remains unclear regarding which practices caregivers perform to contribute to self-care for patients with HF, especially in Southern Europe.
Objective: The objective of this study was to describe caregiver contributions to HF self-care maintenance (ie, treatment adherence and symptom monitoring) and management (ie, managing HF symptoms when they occur).
Forty HF caregivers were enrolled from 3 outpatient clinics in Italy for a qualitative descriptive study. Data were collected with a semistructured interview and analyzed using content analysis.
Caregivers were 53.6 years old on average and mostly female (63.5%). Caregiver contributions to self-care maintenance included practices related to (1) monitoring medication adherence, (2) educating patients about HF symptom monitoring, (3) motivating patients to perform physical activity, and (4) reinforcing dietary restrictions. However, some of these practices were incorrect (eg, weighing the patient only once a week). Caregiver contributions to self-care management included practices related to (1) symptom recognition and (2) treatment implementation. Caregivers were able to recognize symptoms of HF exacerbation (eg, breathlessness) but lacked confidence regarding treatment implementation (eg, administering an extra diuretic).
Although caregivers described contributing to patients' HF self-care maintenance and management, some of their practices were incorrect. Because the caregiver contributions to HF self-care can improve patient outcomes, clinicians should routinely assess caregiver HF self-care practices and provide education and reinforcement regarding evidence-based practices.