• decision-making;
  • gender roles heart failure;
  • self-care

dickson vv, worrall-carter l, kuhn l & riegel b (2011) Journal of Nursing and Healthcare of Chronic Illness3, 99–108 Whose job is it? Gender differences in perceived role in heart failure self-care

Aim.  To describe gender differences in perceived role in heart failure (HF) self-care and to explore how an individual’s perception of their role influences self-care behaviours. Specifically, two hypotheses were tested: (1) there are gender-specific differences in perceived self-care roles in HF and (2) there are differences in self-care secondary to a patient’s perceived role.

Background.  Gender differences in roles are ubiquitous in all societies. Rarely have these roles been examined as they contribute to performance of self-care in adults with chronic illnesses.

Methods.  Secondary analysis of three mixed methods studies (n = 99) of adults with chronic heart failure. Data were collected between 2006–2008.

Conclusions.  Two dominant perceived roles in self-care were identified: (1) active and (2) passive. These were further categorised according to the degree of independence described by participants in self-care decision making: (1) primary responsibility (27%), (2) collaboration (22%) and (3) reliant upon direction from others (51%).

Relevance to clinical practice.  Clinicians are encouraged to assess the individual’s perceived role in HF self-care as part of the self-care education process. Understanding patient perceptions of their role may help guide education, which may be particularly useful for those patients most likely to defer to others for HF management advice.