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cardiovascular disease, caregiving, education, prevention



  1. Mosca, Lori MD, PhD
  2. Mochari-Greenberger, Heidi PhD, RD
  3. Aggarwal, Brooke EdD, MS
  4. Liao, Ming BS
  5. Suero-Tejeda, Niurka MA
  6. Comellas, Mariceli MA
  7. Rehm, Lisa MPA
  8. Umann, Tianna M. PA-C, MA
  9. Mehran, Roxana MD


Background and Objectives: Cardiac caregivers may represent a novel low-cost strategy to improve patient adherence to medical follow-up and guidelines and, ultimately, patient outcomes. Prior work on caregiving has been conducted primarily in mental health and cancer research; few data have systematically evaluated caregivers of cardiac patients. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the patterns of caregiving and characteristics of caregivers among hospitalized patients with cardiovascular disease (CVD) to assess disparities in caregiver burden and to determine the potential for caregivers to impact clinical outcomes.


Subjects and Methods: Consecutive patients admitted to the cardiovascular service line at a university medical center during an 11-month period were included in the Family Cardiac Caregiver Investigation To Evaluate Outcomes (FIT-O) study. Patients (n = 4500; 59% white, 62% male, 93% participation rate) completed a standardized interviewer-assisted questionnaire in English or Spanish regarding assistance with medical care, daily activities, and medications in the past year and plans for posthospitalization. In univariate and multiple variable analyses, caregivers were categorized as either paid/professional (eg, nurse/home aide) or nonpaid (eg, family member/friend).


Results and Conclusions: Among CVD patients, 13% planned to have a paid caregiver and 51% a nonpaid caregiver at discharge. Planned paid caregiving was more prevalent among racial/ethnic minority versus white patients (odds ratio, 1.5; 95% confidence interval, 1.2-1.8); planned nonpaid caregiving prevalence did not differ by race/ethnicity. Most nonpaid caregivers were female (78%). Patients who had nonpaid caregivers in the year prior to hospitalization (28%) reported grocery shopping/meal preparation (32%), transport to/arranging doctor visits (30%), and medication adherence/medical needs (25%) as top tasks caregivers assisted with. Following hospitalization, a majority of patients expect nonpaid caregivers, primarily women, to assist with tasks that have the potential to improve CVD outcomes such as medical follow-up, medication adherence, and nutrition, suggesting that these are important targets for caregiver education.