Monday, January 23, 2006

Study: Simple disease management programs work as well as complex ones

A simplified education program improves knowledge, self-care behavior, and disease severity in heart failure patients in rural settings.

Am Heart J.  2005; 150(5):983 (ISSN: 1097-6744)

Caldwell MA ; Peters KJ ; Dracup KA
University of California, San Francisco, California, USA.

BACKGROUND: Self-monitoring by heart failure (HF) patients of worsening symptoms caused by fluid overload is a cornerstone of HF care. Disease management has improved outcomes in HF; however, these resource-intensive programs are limited to urban centers and are generally unavailable in rural or limited health care access areas. This pilot study sought to determine whether a simplified education program focused on a single component of disease management (symptom recognition and management of fluid weight) could improve knowledge, patient-reported self-care behavior, and HF severity in a rural setting.

METHODS: This randomized clinical trial enrolled 36 rural HF patients into an intervention or control group. The intervention group received a simplified education program with a follow-up phone call focusing on symptom management delivered by a non-cardiac-trained nurse. Patient knowledge, self-care behaviors, and HF severity (B-natriuretic peptide [BNP]) were measured at enrollment and at 3 months.

RESULTS: The sample was primarily white men and married with a mean age of 71 years and ejection fraction of 47%. There were no differences between groups in knowledge, self-care behaviors and BNP at baseline; however, knowledge and self-care behavior related to daily weights improved significantly at 3 months in the intervention group (P = .01 and .03, respectively). Although the changes in mean BNP at 3 months were in the hypothesized direction, the difference between the 2 groups was not significant.

CONCLUSIONS: A simplified education program designed for use in resource scarce settings improves knowledge and patient-reported self-care behaviors. These findings are important in providing care to patients with HF in limited access settings but should be studied for longer periods in more heterogeneous populations.

  • PreMedline Identifier: 16290977
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