Factors affecting the symptom burden in chronic heart failure

Gary Michael Gusick, The University of Texas School of Nursing at Houston


Background. Heart failure (HF) is a health problem of epidemic proportions and a clinical syndrome that leads to progressively severe symptoms, which contribute significantly to the burden of the disease. Several factors may affect the symptom burden of patients with HF, including physiological, psychological, and spiritual factors. This study was designed to examine the inter-relationship of physiological, psychological, and spiritual factors affecting symptoms for patients with HF. Objectives. The aims of this study were to examine symptom burden of heart failure patients related to: (1) the physiological factor of brain natriuretic peptide (BNP); (2) the psychological factor of depression; (3) the spiritual factors of self transcendence and purpose in life; and (4) combined effects of physiological, psychological and spiritual factors. One additional aim was to describe symptom intensity related to symptom burden. Methods. A cross-sectional non-experimental correlational design was used to examine factors affecting symptom burden in 105 patients with HF from a southwestern medical center outpatient heart failure clinic. Both men and women were included; average age was 56.6 (SD = 16.86). All measures except BNP were obtained by patient self-report. Results. The mean number of symptoms present was 8.17 (SD = 3.34) with the three most common symptoms being shortness of breath on exertion, fatigue, and weakness. The mean symptom intensity was 365.66 (SD = 199.50) on a summative scale of visual analogue reports for 13 symptoms. The mean BNP level was 292.64 pg/ml (SD = 57 1.11). The prevalence rate for depression was 43.6% with a mean score of 3.48 (SD = 2.75) on the Center for Epidemiological Studies - Depression scale (CES-D 10) scale. In a multivariate analysis, depression was the only significant predictor of symptom burden (r = .474; P < .001), accounting for 18% of the variance. Spirituality had an interaction effect with depression (P ≤ .001), serving as a moderator between depression and symptom burden. Conclusion. HF is a chronic and progressive syndrome characterized by severe symptoms, hospitalizations and disability. Depression is significantly related to symptom burden and this relationship is moderated by spirituality.

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Recommended Citation

Gusick, Gary Michael, "Factors affecting the symptom burden in chronic heart failure" (2005). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3166193.