heart failure, pain, perceived health, quality of life, symptoms



  1. Godfrey, Christina M. MSc, RN
  2. Harrison, Margaret B. PhD, RN
  3. Friedberg, Elaine MHA, RN
  4. Medves, Jennifer M. PhD, RN
  5. Tranmer, Joan E. PhD, RN


The symptom of pain is not typically associated with heart failure. Yet, emerging evidence suggests that pain is an important issue for this population.


Objectives: (1) To determine whether pain was reported by a cohort of individuals with heart failure at the time of discharge from hospital, at 2 and 6 weeks postdischarge; (2) To examine the profile of individuals who reported pain at discharge and to determine if there were differences from individuals who did not report pain; (3) To determine whether there was a difference in health-related quality of life between reported pain and no pain groups.


Methods: This study was part of a larger randomized controlled trial with a 3-month follow-up. Data were obtained from 169 individuals diagnosed with heart failure who completed the first 6 weeks of the follow-up period.


Results: At time of discharge, 68% of the cohort reported pain. Both frequency and severity of pain fluctuated throughout the study for the entire cohort. There were no sociodemographic characteristics that distinguished those who reported pain from those who did not report pain. Differences in health-related quality of life were found between the reported pain and no pain groups at discharge and week 2. Depression, worry, feeling a loss of control over one's life, and feeling as if one was a burden to family were significantly more prevalent in individuals who reported pain. Differences were also found in self-rated health status, and number of prescription medications taken daily. Throughout the 6 weeks, 63 individuals (37%) consistently reported pain and 23 (14%) never reported pain.


Conclusion: Pain was a concern for this cohort of individuals diagnosed with heart failure and was noted to impact their health-related quality of life. Further research is needed into the nature of the pain and the role of pain in self-management once patients are discharged home.