Community-based nurse practitioner support is associated with better self-care behaviour and quality of life in patients with chronic heart failure

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Sheau Huey Chen
James Boyd
Sean Randall
Andrew Maiorana


Chronic heart failure, self-care, quality of life, nurse practitioner, hospital readmissions


Objective: To evaluate the effects of a community based chronic heart failure management program, delivered by nurse practitioners, on self-care behaviour, quality of life and hospital readmissions. Background: Chronic heart failure is a complex condition associated with high rates of hospital readmissions. However, many hospitalisations in patients with chronic heart failure are potentially preventable with better self-management and access to specialised healthcare support. Nurse practitioners have an advanced scope of practice, making them well credentialed to support patients with chronic heart failure. Study design and methods: This study compared self-care behaviour and quality of life in patients who had attended a nurse-practitioner led chronic heart failure management service (SmartHeart) (n=58) compared with patients receiving usual care (n=58), but no nurse practitioner support. Self-care behaviour was assessed using the Self Care Heart Failure Index and quality of life was assessed using the Short Form-36 and Minnesota Living with Heart Failure Questionnaire. Hospitalisation records were extracted from medical records using data-linkage. Results: Patients who received nurse-practitioner support had better self-care behaviour (p<0.05), mental component summary of the Short Form-36 (p<0.05) and heart failure specific quality of life (p<0.05). All-cause hospitalisations were delayed (p<0.05) and length of stay was shorter (p<0.05) in the group receiving nurse practitioner support, but there were no differences in chronic heart failure related admissions. Discussion: A chronic heart failure support program, operating in a community setting and delivered by nurse practitioners, enhanced self-care, improved psychosocial health and reduced time in hospital. Conclusion: Chronic heart failure management delivered by nurse practitioners can improve self-care behaviour and quality of life, and reduced hospital admissions, compared with usual care.

What is already known about the topic?

  • Chronic heart failure is a complex health issue requiring disease-specific management that needs to be tailored to the individual. However, many patients with chronic heart failure don’t receive adequate support to manage their condition.

What does this paper add:

  • A chronic heart failure management service, delivered in primary care by nurse practitioners, improved self-management and quality of life and was associated with a lower rate of hospitalisations compared with usual care alone.

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