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Background: Integrating heart failure and palliative care teams combines unique expertise from both cardiology and palliative care. However, professionals from the two arenas of life-saving cardiology and palliative care may well have different experiences with and approaches to patient care. Little is known how to optimally discuss cardiopulmonary resuscitation with patients and their relatives and what challenges are for healthcare providers. Objective: The aim of this study was to describe the experiences and thoughts of members of an integrated heart failure and palliative care team concerning talking about CPR with end-stage heart failure patients. Method: We used a descriptive qualitative design, conducting group interviews during 2011 with professionals from different disciplines working with heart failure patients over a 1-year period. A qualitative content analysis was performed to examine the interview data. Results: Professional caregivers in integrated heart failure and palliative homecare are struggling with the issue of CPR of end-stage heart failure patients. They wrestle with the question of whether CPR should be performed at all in these terminally ill patients. They also feel challenged by the actual conversation about CPR with the patients and their relatives. Despite talking them about CPR with patients and relatives is difficult, the study participants described that doing so is important, as it could be the start of a broader end-of-life conversation. Conclusion: Talking with patient and relatives about CPR in end-stage heart failure, as suggested in the current heart failure guidelines, is a challenge in daily clinical practice. It is important to discuss the difficulties within the team and to decide whether, whom, how and when to talk about CPR with individual patients and their relatives.


Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research

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Journal Article

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