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Objectives. This study sought to examine how patients’ mood and quality of life (QoL) change during the early high-risk period after a diagnosis of heart failure (HF) and to identify factors that may influence change.

Design. A within-subjects, repeated-measures design was used. Assessments took place within 4 weeks of diagnosis and 6 months later.

Methods. One hundred and sixty six patients with HF completed assessments of their mood, QoL, and beliefs about HF and its treatment. Correlation analysis was conducted between the variables and analysis of variance and t-tests were used to assess differences in categorical variables. To examine which variables predicted mood and QoL, hierarchical multiple regressions were conducted.

Results. At follow-up, patients’ beliefs indicated a realization of the chronicity of their HF, however their beliefs about the consequences of having HF did not change and their satisfaction with their treatment remained high. QoL and anxiety improved significantly over time but there was no significant change in depressed mood. As would be expected, improvement in symptoms was a key factor in improved mood and QoL. Other significant explanatory variables included age, comorbid chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, depressed mood, patients’ beliefs about the consequences of their HF and their concerns about treatment.

Conclusions. This study suggests that addressing patients’ mood and beliefs about their illness and its treatment may be additional ways of improving patient QoL in the early period after the diagnosis of HF.