Ready, Set, Go: How Patients and Caregivers Are Prepared for Self-Management of an Implantable Ventricular Assist Device

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Since the first use of an implantable ventricular assist device (VAD) nearly 3 decades ago, many VAD Centers in the United States expect patients and caregivers to manage the device and related care following hospital discharge. Despite this customary practice and the rapid advancements in VAD technology, no research data about the patient and caregiver preparations exist for self-management of VAD. This study explored the process of preparing patients and caregivers for VAD care before hospital discharge along with their perceived experiences of the discharge process. Using an exploratory research design, we collected the data with self-administered demographics and VAD Hospital Discharge Survey questionnaires. We analyzed the data provided by 102 patients and 116 caregivers from different regions in the United States. Patients’ mean age was 51.4 ± 13.8 years; they were predominantly White (78%); male (66%); and duration of device between 2 and 74 months. Caregivers were predominantly White (80%); female (81%); and had a mean of age 48.9 ± 12.7 years. Participants reported that their VAD care preparations, a crucial component of hospital discharge, were extensive and intensive processes comprising education, training, competency validation, and provision of resources for VAD self-management in home settings. Participants were satisfied with the process and felt prepared for discharge. Further research is needed to rectify the study limitations, advance the science of VAD self-management, and develop evidenced-based VAD self-management guidelines that are aimed at optimizing longevity of the VAD, patients’ health, and quality of life.

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