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disease management, heart failure, quality of care, self-care, self management



  1. McEntee, Mindy L. MA
  2. Cuomo, Lori R. RN, MSN
  3. Dennison, Cheryl R. PhD, RN, ANP, FAHA


Background: The effectiveness of many heart failure (HF) treatments has been demonstrated, and national guidelines have been widely disseminated, yet HF care remains suboptimal. Numerous studies have examined barriers to HF care, but to date, there has been limited synthesis of these findings.


Methods and Results: Sixty articles reporting data on barriers to HF care published between 1998 and 2007 met the criteria for inclusion in this review. Barriers to care were reported at the patient, provider, and system levels. Patient barriers were reported in 45 studies and were categorized in the main themes of knowledge, adherence, communication, functional limitations, comorbidities, psychosocial, and socioeconomic factors. Provider barriers were examined in 23 studies and included knowledge, diagnostic challenges, pharmacological concerns, communication issues, and personal factors. Barriers at the healthcare system level were reported in 13 studies and pertained to problems with organizational structure, communication, and lack of resources. Several barriers were interrelated and could not be exclusively categorized to a single level of care, with overlap also occurring within the main barrier themes.


Conclusions: Barriers to HF care were common and pervasive throughout the continuum of care. To effectively improve the quality of care and outcomes among HF patients, obstacles to HF care must be addressed at multiple levels.