Our research team has published an article in the European Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing: https://doi.org/10.1177/1474515120918355
Background: Most patients with advanced heart failure are ill-prepared and poorly supported during the end of life. To date, research has focused primarily on generalized patient accounts of the management or self-care phase of the
syndrome. Little research has examined the end of life in depth or from the perspectives of family members.
Aims: The purpose of this study is to describe how people diagnosed with heart failure and their family members describe uncertainty related to impending death.
Methods and results: A narrative inquiry was undertaken using a social constructionist perspective. Twenty participants took part in over 60 interviews: 12 participants with heart failure (eight male and four female; mean 67.3 years) and eight family members (mean 61.6 years) engaged in two in-depth interviews, approximately 3–4 months apart, followed by a telephone follow-up 2–3 months later. Six key themes/storylines were identified. These included: prognosis messages received from physicians; whenever I die, I die; loss isn’t new to me but . . . ; carrying on amidst the
fragility of life; ultimately living not knowing; and the need to prepare.
Conclusion: The six key storylines of death and dying with advanced heart failure were consistent for both patients and family members. There was a desire for better communication with physicians. Many participants were critical of how the prognosis of advanced heart failure was communicated to them, even if they anticipated the news. Participants wanted frank, open conversations with their healthcare providers that both acknowledged that they were at end of life but did not remove all hope.
Reference: Molzahn, A. E., Sheilds, L., Bruce, A., Schick-Makaroff, K., Antonio, M., & Clark, A. M. (2020). Life and priorities before death: A narrative inquiry of uncertainty and end of life in people with heart failure and their family members. European Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing, 1474515120918355.