Patients with heart failure whose outpatient care is directed by nurses enjoy better quality of life than patients who manage their own care, new research suggests. The study involved 406 patients with left ventricular systolic dysfunction. About half were African-American and one-third were Hispanic. Researchers randomly assigned patients to receive nurse-led care or standard care (self-management) for 1 year. Nursing care involved counseling from a bilingual nurse on diet, drug adherence, and symptom management. Nurses also called patients once every 2 weeks at first, then once a month, then once every 2 months. Nurses kept each patient's primary care provider informed about changes in the patient's condition or the need for treatment changes.
After 9 months, patients with nurse-managed care reported slight limitations in physical functioning, compared with marked limitations reported by self-managed patients. Patients with nurse-managed care had 143 hospitalizations compared with 180 for those who managed their own care.
Researchers conclude that nurse management can improve functioning and modestly lower hospitalizations in ambulatory care patients with heart failure.
Source: Effects of nurse management on the quality of heart failure care in minority communities, Annals of Internal Medicine, JE Sisk, et al., August 15, 2006.