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African American, heart failure, outpatient, palliative care, quality of life



  1. Lem, Ashlea A. DNP, ARNP, AGACNP
  2. Schwartz, Misty PhD, RN


Heart failure is a progressive, incurable disease that limits both physical and psychosocial qualities of life. Palliative care is recommended to be used in conjunction with heart failure treatment guidelines to optimize patient care throughout the disease trajectory. The purpose of this study was to explore, from the patient perspective, the understanding of palliative care in African American heart failure patients in an ambulatory care setting. A qualitative, pilot study was conducted using semistructured interviews of 13 African American heart failure patients. Data were analyzed and verified using qualitative research techniques. Overall, none of the participants had heard of palliative care prior to the interview. After an explanation of palliative care was provided, 10 of 13 (77%) felt having palliative care involved in their heart failure treatment would be beneficial. Three themes emerged: (1) improved quality of life, (2) need for strong patient-provider relationships, and (3) need for ongoing education. Early intervention of palliative care in heart failure treatment will provide further support and relief of symptom burden. Participants expressed a need for strong patient-provider relationships and to have ongoing education regarding disease trajectory. Further research is needed to evaluate early palliative care intervention, patient satisfaction, and quality-of-life outcomes.