Objective: To demonstrate the effectiveness of an outpatient occupational therapy program on improving self-care for individuals with heart failure.
Background: Hospitalizations for heart failure (HF) are the largest Medicare expenditure, and 12% of these admissions are considered preventable. Effective self-management of the debilitating symptoms associated with HF (shortness of breath, fatigue, fluid retention, cognitive decline) helps keep patients out of the hospital. Individuals often experience difficulty incorporating self-care management activities into their daily lives. Occupational therapy (OT) is well suited to address the self-care needs of people with HF by increasing patient self-efficacy and facilitating lifestyle modification through the incorporation of new habits, roles, and routines.
Methods: Participants with HF (n=11, ages 40-86) enrolled in an outpatient OT program focusing on self-care management. Participants received weekly, bi-weekly or monthly one-hour treatments over a six-month period. Sessions addressed the following topics: low sodium diet adherence, medication management, activity tolerance, symptom monitoring and psychosocial coping strategies. The Self-Care of Heart Failure Index (SCHFI) was administered at evaluation and upon completion of the program. The SCHFI is a reliable and valid assessment tool that measures self-care maintenance, management and confidence in people with HF.
Results: All participants who received two or more treatments demonstrated 33.33% (16.67 of 49.99) to 190.01% (63.33 of 33.33) improvement in maintenance of self-care routines based on pre and post SCHFI scores. Additionally, half of these participants demonstrated 28.47% (22.16 of 77.84) to 85.33% (38.4 of 45) improvement in confidence with self-care management based on pre and post SCHFI scores.
Conclusion: Participation in an outpatient OT program that focused on incorporating lifestyle modifications into daily routines was effective at improving self-care for people with HF, specifically maintenance of self-care routines and confidence with ability to self-manage their chronic condition.