Positive outlooks may bring better outcomes for patients with heart failure

Research Activities, April 2010, No. 356

Many patients who experience heart failure also suffer from depression, which puts them at higher risk for hospital stays or even death. To determine why some patients with heart failure become depressed, researchers from Duke University and the University of North Carolina asked 222 patients to complete questionnaires that measure depression, optimism, coping style, and social support. They found that depression was linked to patients having less optimism, low levels of social support, and poor coping styles such as denial of the problem. Optimists, because they expect good results, may be more likely to stay active in managing their symptoms and to seek help when they need to. Additionally, having ample social support from friends or family members may ward off depression and physical deterioration for patients with heart failure, note the authors.

They suggest that depression in these patients may be linked to coping styles that interfere with constructively managing their condition. For instance, high scores for depression were linked to low scores for coping tools including acceptance, humor, planning, emotional support, and mental disengagement. Further, depression was also linked to denial, which may lead some patients with heart failure to not seek treatment when it is clearly warranted. This study was funded in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (T32 HS00079).

See "Coping styles in heart failure patients with depressive symptoms," by Ranak B. Trivedi, Ph.D., James A. Blumenthal, Ph.D., Christopher O'Connor, M.D., and others in the October 2009 Journal of Psychosomatic Research 67(4), pp. 339-346.

Current as of April 2010
Internet Citation: Positive outlooks may bring better outcomes for patients with heart failure: Research Activities, April 2010, No. 356. April 2010. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://archive.ahrq.gov/news/newsletters/research-activities/apr10/0410RA21.html