Title. Quality of life in partners of people with congestive heart failure: gender and involvement in care.
Aim. This paper is a report of a study conducted to investigate quality of life in partners of people with congestive heart failure in comparison to individuals living with a healthy partner.
Background. Congestive heart failure is a chronic debilitating disease with severe symptoms and complex treatment. The support of partners is essential in the management of congestive heart failure. Living with a chronic illness generally affects the quality of life of patients and their partners.
Method. Data were collected using a cross-sectional, comparative design between October 2002 and February 2005 with 303 partners of people with congestive heart failure. Reference data were collected in 304 age- and gender-matched individuals living with a healthy partner, drawn from the general population. All respondents completed questionnaires at home on quality of life and general well-being. Analysis of variance was used to analyse the data.
Findings. Overall, differences in quality of life between partners of people with heart failure and matched controls were small. However, substantial variation in the quality of life of partners was found by exploring the role of gender and involvement in care. Quality of life scores varied strongly for male and female partners who had to perform caregiving tasks. The performance of these caregiving tasks was negatively associated with the quality of life of female partners but not with that of male partners.
Conclusion. Female partners especially should not be overlooked when they become involved in personal care tasks. Nurses should not be reluctant to involve male partners in caring for women with heart failure.