Gaps and disparities in delivery of heart failure education by nurses and performance in accomplishing self-care behaviors by patients with advanced heart failure may be factors in clinical decompensation and unplanned consumption of health care. Is nurse-led education effectively delivered before hospital discharge? Nurse leaders must understand the strength of nurses’ knowledge base related to self-care principles and important barriers to best practice. Nurses may not be comfortable teaching patients about dry weight, meal planning, heart failure medications, or progressive steps of activity and exercise. Further, clinical nurses may not have time to provide in-depth education to patients before discharge. Equally important, research is needed to learn about factors that enhance patients’ adherence to heart failure self-care behaviors, because adherence to recommendations of national, evidence-based, heart failure guidelines improves clinical outcomes. Thus, nurses and patients are on parallel paths related to setting the foundation for improved self-care adherence in advanced heart failure. Through research, we found that nurses were not adequately prepared as heart failure educators and that patients did not believe they were able to control heart failure. In 2 educational intervention studies that aimed to help patients understand that they could control fluid management and follow a strict daily fluid limit, patients had improved clinical outcomes. Thus, misperceptions about heart failure can be overcome with interventions that move beyond communicating “what” self-care behaviors are recommended. Research results reflect that evidence matters! Systems and processes are needed to support nurses’ knowledge, comfort, and frequency in delivering self-care education before discharge, increase the accuracy of patients’ beliefs about controlling heart failure, and enhance patients’ desire to adhere to guideline-recommended heart failure self-care behaviors. This article describes the development of the parallel paths of nurse and patient programs of research and explores translation of findings into practice and development of clinical translational research.
American Journal of Critical Care, 2013, Vol 22, Issue 4, p. 289-296