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Keywords:

  • heart failure;
  • qualitative;
  • death and dying;
  • chronic illness;
  • homecare

Abstract

The last phase of life of patients with end-stage heart failure (HF) or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is marked by high symptom burden and uncertainty about the future. Few enroll in hospice, and their preferences for care remain unknown. The purpose of this qualitative study was to describe the experiences and goals for care of patients with end-stage HF and COPD who were recently discharged from the hospital. Forty semi-structured interviews were completed with 20 participants. Despite conditions considered life-threatening by clinicians, participants believed they still had time. They hoped that their illnesses would remain stable, although specific experiences made them think they might be worsening. All expected that their doctors would tell them when their illnesses became life-threatening. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Res Nurs Health 36: 349–358, 2013