Buy this Article for $10.95

Have a coupon or promotional code? Enter it here:

When you buy this you'll get access to the ePub version, a downloadable PDF, and the ability to print the full article.


Canada, complex adaptive systems, heart failure, long-term care, nursing



  1. Strachan, Patricia H.
  2. Kaasalainen, Sharon
  3. Horton, Amy
  4. Jarman, Hellen
  5. D'Elia, Teresa
  6. Van Der Horst, Mary-Lou
  7. Newhouse, Ian
  8. Kelley, Mary Lou
  9. McAiney, Carrie
  10. McKelvie, Robert
  11. Heckman, George A.


Background: Implementation of heart failure guidelines in long-term care (LTC) settings is challenging. Understanding the conditions of nursing practice can improve management, reduce suffering, and prevent hospital admission of LTC residents living with heart failure.


Objective: The aim of the study was to understand the experiences of LTC nurses managing care for residents with heart failure.


Methods: This was a descriptive qualitative study nested in Phase 2 of a three-phase mixed methods project designed to investigate barriers and solutions to implementing the Canadian Cardiovascular Society heart failure guidelines into LTC homes. Five focus groups totaling 33 nurses working in LTC settings in Ontario, Canada, were audiorecorded, then transcribed verbatim, and entered into NVivo9. A complex adaptive systems framework informed this analysis. Thematic content analysis was conducted by the research team. Triangulation, rigorous discussion, and a search for negative cases were conducted. Data were collected between May and July 2010.


Results: Nurses characterized their experiences managing heart failure in relation to many influences on their capacity for decision-making in LTC settings: (a) a reactive versus proactive approach to chronic illness; (b) ability to interpret heart failure signs, symptoms, and acuity; (c) compromised information flow; (d) access to resources; and (e) moral distress.


Discussion: Heart failure guideline implementation reflects multiple dynamic influences. Leadership that addresses these factors is required to optimize the conditions of heart failure care and related nursing practice.