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On-going palliative care enhances perceived control and patient activation and reduces symptom distress in patients with symptomatic heart failure: a pilot study.



There is a paucity of research about the impact of palliative care (PC) on perceived control (i.e. one's perceived influence over outcomes or events in the environment) and activation (i.e. ability to self-manage) in patients with symptomatic heart failure (HF). Likewise, little is known about the association between perceived control, activation, and symptom distress in this patient population. We hypothesized that patients with advanced HF who received ongoing PC services (i.e. ≥2 PC consultations) vs no access or a single PC consultation would have greater improvements in perceived control and activation and greater reductions in symptom distress three months post-discharge for HF exacerbation.


Forty-two patients (average age 53.9±8.0 years; predominantly male (72%), White (61%) and married (69%)) participated in the study. However, only 36 (85.7%) patients completed an outpatient PC consultation of which 29 (69%) patients returned for additional follow-up visits with the PC team. Data on perceived control, activation, and symptom distress were collected at baseline and three months. Parametric statistical models were applied to draw conclusions.


Findings showed that the patients who received ≥2 PC consultations had greater improvements in perceived control and activation than their counterparts; these increases were associated with greater reductions in symptom distress.


Our findings suggest that on-going PC interventions enhance perceived control and activation in patients with advanced HF and open up the possibility of planning larger studies to assess the effect of PC on these variables as possible mediators to improvements in self-management and clinical outcomes.

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