The Quality of Life in Patients with Heart Failure


The article was written by Theodosios Stavrianopoulos, an infection control nurse working in General Hospital of Pyrgos Ilia, Greece. It was published in the Health Science Journal in 2016. The article was meant to address the impact of a nurses-led telephone intervention program on the quality of life in patients with heart failure. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the article and its structure in order to provide a well-informed and constructive critique.

Research Question of the Study

Heart failure is one of the most widespread diseases in both Europe and the USA that affects millions of lives daily. At the same, treatments for HF are considered some of the most expensive, thus putting a strain on both family and government budgets. The preventive action could help reduce these expenses and lead to a greater quality of life and lower hospitalization rates. The author states that the research question of this study is to assess whether nurses-led telephone on a regular basis in HF patients may upgrade the quality of their lives (Stavrianopoulos, 2016).

Research Design

In order to conduct this research, the author organized a group of four nurses to perform weekly phone calls to the test group, during which they monitored the patients’ health and offered advice on how to deal with potential health hazards on their own (Stavrianopoulos, 2016). The data was collected via a questionnaire and analyzed using statistical software. This kind of study design is standard allows applying a hands-on approach in order to prove or disprove the effectiveness of a proposed method. The weakness of such a research design is that it does not account for any factors other than the proposed intervention to have any serious influence on the results of the research.

Research Sample

The sample size for this research included 50 participants, both men, and women, aged between 50 and 65 or older. All of them were diagnosed with heart failure, but with a stable condition and no immediate threat for hospitalization. They were split into groups A and B, with group A being the test group, and group B – the control group. The majority of the sample population were men, counting at 34. The number of women participating in the research was lower, counting at 16. I do not find this sample to be adequate for several reasons. First, it is too small, and the researcher acknowledges that. Second, the motivation for having more women than men is unclear and not explained in the methodology section of this research. Lastly, all patients were considered stable and not in danger, which affected their perceptions of personal wellbeing and constituted for greater scores in regards to the quality of life.

Data Collection Methods

The primary data collection tool used in this study was the MLHFQ questionnaire, developed in Minnesota and used to measure the perceptions of the quality of life in HF patients. The questionnaires were distributed and collected by the nurses participating in the research. Data was collected 2 times – before and after the intervention, in order to detect any visible results. The information was analyzed by statistical means, using the available statistical software.

Limitations of the Study

The limitations of this study are numerous, and the majority of them are acknowledged by the author. The greatest limitations include small sample size that does not accurately represent the target population, potential errors that come with the use of questionnaires as a primary data collection tool, the use of an American questionnaire that was developed for the American population and not necessarily fit for universal use, and many potential factors that could have influenced the research results and were not included in the research. A bigger project with greater funds and resources would be able to overcome these limitations and produce more accurate results.

Findings of the Study

The research found that nurses-led telephone-based interventions have a significant impact on the quality of life in HF patients. The MLHFQ scores for the test group after the intervention were rated at 31.52, whereas the scores for the control group remained at 53.80 (Stavrianopoulos, 2016). The results of this research are questionable.

They are not consistent with the results of other similar researches, many of which report no significant differences between the test groups and control groups. It could be speculated that the results were affected not by objective improvements in the quality of life but rather the perceptions of such. It is one of the inherent flaws of the questionnaire method of data collection. While it is stated that the number of hospital readmissions for the control group also dropped, it is unclear whether this is the result of the intervention or something else. Having a small sample size also makes it difficult to understand whether these results were consistent or not.

Summary

The study provides a reason for the introduction of telephone interventions into standard hospital practice in Greece and other countries. However, the limitations of the study prevent these results from being looked upon as conclusive. While a full-scale intervention will not be introduced based on this research alone, it could be used as a supporting point for a larger study that would provide more conclusive evidence to justify the implementation of telephone interventions state-wide.

References

Stavrianopoulos, T. (2016). Impact of a nurses-led telephone intervention program

on the quality of life in patients with heart failure in a district hospital of Greece. Health Science Journal, 10(4), 1-5,