Self-management of heart failure (HF) is often a joint venture between patients and their friends and family (“framily”). However, this joint experience is often overlooked in clinical care.
The aim of this study was to understand the cognitive, emotional, and relational elements affecting the experience of patient-framily member dyads managing HF.
Participants were patients with HF receiving care at a university hospital and their framily. Dyads participated in 30- to 45-minute semistructured interviews before their clinic visit. Transcribed interviews were analyzed using thematic analyses. Interviews were coded independently and checked for interrater agreement before the final coded data set was developed. Participants were recruited until thematic saturation was attained.
A total of 16 patient-framily member dyads and 1 triad (n = 35) participated in the study; 47.1% of patients and 77.8% of framily members were female. Patients were 66 years old (SD, 14 years) and framily members were 59 years old (SD, 12.3 years). Three aspects of the dyadic experience emerged in the themes: (1) health beliefs of dyads were characterized by acceptance and optimism, but also pessimism; (2) negative emotions influenced the dyadic experience; (3) the closeness of their interpersonal relationships influenced their contributions to managing HF.
Our study suggests that greater attention to the experience and interpersonal relationships of dyads has the potential for improving HF self-management and facilitating patient-centered care.