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Complexity of management and health outcomes in a prospective cohort study of 573 heart failure patients in Australia: does more equal less?


Correspondence: Andrea Driscoll, Associate Professor, Deakin University, Faculty of Health, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Burwood Highway, Melbourne 3125, Vic., Australia. Telephone: +61 03 9251 7212.



Aims and objectives

To compare the efficacy of chronic heart failure management programmes (CHF-MPs) according to a scoring algorithm used to quantify the level of applied interventions–the Heart Failure Intervention Score (HF-IS).


The overall efficacy of heart failure programmes has been proven in several meta-analyses. However, the debate continues as to which components are essential in a heart failure programme to improve patient outcomes.


Prospective cohort study of patients participating in heart failure programmes.


Forty-eight of 62 (77%) programmes in Australia participating in a national register of CHF-MPs were evaluated using the HF-IS: derived from a summed and weighted score of each intervention applied by the CHF-MP (27 interventions overall). The CHF-MPs were prospectively categorised as relatively low (HF-IS < 190 – n = 39 programmes & 407 patients) or high (HF-IS ≥ 190 – n = 9 programmes & 166 patients) in complexity. Six-month morbidity and mortality rates in 573 consecutively recruited patients with systolic dysfunction and in New York Heart Association Class II–IV were prospectively examined.


Patients exposed to CHF-MPs with a high HF-IS had a lower rate of unplanned, all-cause hospitalisation (n = 24, 14% vs. n = 102, 25%) compared with CHF-MPs with a low HF-IS within six months. On an adjusted basis, CHF-MPs with a high HF-IS were associated with a reduced risk of unplanned hospitalisation and/or death within six months and remained event-free longer.


High complexity CHF-MPs applying more evidence-based interventions are associated with a higher event-free survival over six months.

Relevance to clinical practice

The HF-IS is an easy-to-use evidence-based tool to assist programme coordinators to improve the quality of their heart failure programme which may also improve patient outcomes.