The purpose of the study was to evaluate symptom occurrence in patients with end-stage heart disease who were newly admitted to hospice care. The medical records of 51 deceased patients with heart disease were sampled from a Florida hospice. Data abstracted included demographic data, patient symptoms, and patient and caregiver symptoms of depression and perceptions of social support. Most of the patients (82.4%) were white and had family caregivers (72.5%). Patient average age was 80.3, whereas caregiver average age was 57.1. The median length of stay (LOS) was 31 days. Patients reported a mean of 11.9 symptoms (range 0-28). Most commonly reported symptoms were fatigue (82.4%), shortness of breath (76%), and swelling (56.9%). Depression scores (CES-D) for patients ranged from 0 to 8 (on a 0-10 scale) and 0 to 6 for caregivers. Perceived social support was slightly higher for patients compared to caregivers. The findings of this study underscored the need for research that will define, develop, and test interventions to improve quality of life for patients who have end-stage heart disease and their families.
Susan C. McMillan, PhD, ARNP, FAAN, is the Lyall and Beatrice Thompson Professor of Oncology Quality of Life Nursing, University of South Florida, College of Nursing, Tampa, FL.
Sandra B. Dunbar, DSN, RN, FAAN, is the Charles Howard Candler Professor, Emory University, Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, Atlanta, GA.
Weihua Zhang, RN, PhD, is a Clinical Assistant Professor, Emory University, Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, Atlanta, GA.
Address correspondence to Susan C. McMillan, PhD, ARNP, FAAN, University of South Florida, College of Nursing, MDC Box 22, 12901 Bruce B. Downs Boulevard, Tampa, FL 33612 (e-mail: smcmilla@Health.usf.edu).