BACKGROUND: Quality of Life (QOL) is known to be impaired in patients with Heart Failure (HF). The involvement of a key person, most often the spouse, enables the HF patient to manage the medical regimen and therefore to sustain Quality of Life (QOL). Yet little is known on the impact of caring for an HF patient on the QOL of the caregiving partner. This study aims to explore the QOL of partners of HF patients compared to the QOL of the patients.
METHODS: The study population consisted of 38 couples of hospitalized HF patients and their partners. The Cantril Ladder of Life was used to rate QOL during hospitalization, with regard to the month prior to hospitalization and as projected 3 years in the future. Demographic and clinical variables were collected by patient interview and chart review.
RESULTS: On a scale from 0-10, QOL scores of partners varied from 5.9 to 6.4. At some point the QOL score of partners was even lower than the QOL scores of HF patients. In the month prior to hospital admission the QOL of partners was significantly higher in comparison to the QOL of HF patients (6.1 vs. 4.9, respectively). However, this reversed during hospital admission, with QOL scores of partners being significantly lower compared to QOL scores of HF patients (5.9 vs. 6.8, respectively), even after correcting for age and gender.
CONCLUSION: In our study the QOL of partners of HF patients was low. Whether this is explicitly due to having to live with a HF patient is not clear. Further research on what partners actually do and the relationship between being a caregiver and QOL is necessary in order to support these partners in giving optimal care and support.