Quality of life for heart failure patients may start with accepting illness

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The ability to function with heart failure and a patient’s acceptance of his or her condition may go hand in hand. A Polish study used illness acceptance screening to reveal patterns in patient responses to quality of life surveys.

Monika Obiegło, MSc, from the department of clinical nursing at Wroclaw Medical University in Poland, and colleagues explored the relationship between adaptation to illness and quality of life in patients with at least six-months’ history with heart failure. Obiegło et al recruited 100 patients to take the Nottingham Health Profile questionnaire and the Acceptance of Illness scale.

The Nottingham Health Profile scores range from zero through 38; the higher the score, the worse patients report quality of life. For the Acceptance of Illness scale, higher scores report higher acceptance of the disease. Scores for the Acceptance of Illness scale range from eight to 40.

They found that patients with low acceptance of illness scores, between eight and 18 points, reported higher scores on pain, energy, sleep, feelings of social isolation, emotional reaction and mobility impacts on the Nottingham Health Profile questionnaire.

Additionally, when comparing responses to patient characteristics, they found certain sociodemographic and clinical characteristics seemed also to have higher scores in some areas as opposed to others. Older patients reported more social isolation, mobility problems and emotional reaction issues. Vocational education had lower energy scores when compared with patients with primary and secondary level education and lower mobility scores compared with other educational groups.

They wrote that understanding patients’ self-reported quality of life and adaptation to illness “may be helpful in maximization of patients’ performance and independence.” They noted that when patients fully accept their illness, they are more compliant to medication and self-care regimens.

“Acceptance of illness is a psychological indicator of the quality of adaptation to life with a disease. Due to limitations in the activities of daily living that are inherent to chronic condition, HF [heart failure] patients may experience psychological problems, which is reflected in their worse QoL [quality of life]," wrote Obiegło et al.

The study was published online Jan. 8 in European Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing