Patient Experiences of Structured Heart Failure Programmes

Objectives. Patient experiences of structured heart failure rehabilitation and their views on the important components of heart failure services were examined. Methods. Focus groups were conducted with fifteen participants (men, n = 12) attending one of two heart failure rehabilitation programmes. Sessions were guided by a semistructured interview schedule covering participants’ experiences of the programme, maintenance, and GP role. Focus group transcripts were analysed qualitatively. Results. Participants indicated that rehabilitation programmes substantially met their needs. Supervised exercise sessions increased confidence to resume physical activity, while peer-group interaction and supportive medical staff improved morale. However, once the programme ended, some participants’ self-care motivation lapsed, especially maintenance of an exercise routine. Patients doubted their GPs’ ability to help them manage their condition. Conclusion. Structured rehabilitation programmes are effective in enabling patients to develop lifestyle skills to live with heart failure. However, postrehabilitation maintenance interventions are necessary to sustain patients’ confidence in disease self-management