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Self-care is an important aspect of heart failure (HF) management. Information on the determinants of self-care is necessary for the development of self-care promotion interventions. HF self-care includes self-care management, self-care maintenance, sodium, fluid and alcohol intake restriction, physical activity, smoking cessation, monitoring signs and symptoms and keeping follow-up appointments. To assess the evidence regarding presumed determinants of HF self-care and make recommendations for interventions to promote self-care behavior among HF patients, a systematic literature review was conducted. Based on inclusion and exclusion criteria and a quality assessment, twenty-six articles were included. A best evidence synthesis was used. Results showed that the length of time since patients’ diagnosis with HF is positively related to their performance of self-care maintenance. Moreover, it was found that HF patients’ perceived benefits and barriers are related to their restriction of sodium intake, and that patients with type-D personality are less likely to consult medical professionals. There was also evidence for a few non-significant relationships. All other evidence was inconsistent, mainly due to insufficient evidence. Interventions that aim to increase the performance of self-care maintenance can teach newly diagnosed patients the skills that are usually attained with experience acquired as a result of living with HF for a longer time. Perceived benefits and barriers of restricting sodium intake could be targeted in interventions for sodium intake reduction among HF patients. Finally, interventions for the promotion of adequate consulting of medical professionals can specifically target HF patients with a type-D personality.


Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research

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Journal Article

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