Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

OBJECTIVE: To examine whether heart failure patients' awareness of the purpose and side effects of their medicines equips them to participate in informed discussions about treatments. DESIGN: Qualitative interviews using a maximum variation sample were collected. Interviews were analysed using constant comparison. SETTING: Patients were interviewed throughout the UK, in 2003. Participants. Thirty-seven men and women with heart failure aged between 35 and 85 years. RESULTS: All groups understood that medication was important and had developed methods (dosette boxes, alarm clocks) to cope. Three levels of awareness were identified. People at Level 1 did not know the purpose or possible side effects of their medication; those at Level 2 knew the names and main side effects and relied on doctors to provide detailed information. People at Level 3 understood their diagnosis and were committed to finding out about their illness. CONCLUSION: Knowledge is not the only barrier to informed discussions of heart failure. Although everyone we interviewed knew that they should adhere to their medication regimes, only patients at Level 3 were equipped to discuss their treatment in detail. Patients need to be familiar with symptoms of heart failure, the purpose and side effects of their drugs. Medication reviews and specialist heart failure nurses offer opportunities to improve patients' understanding.

Original publication




Journal article


Fam Pract

Publication Date





624 - 630


Adrenergic beta-Antagonists, Adult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Angiotensin II Type 1 Receptor Blockers, Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors, Anticoagulants, Cardiotonic Agents, Cardiovascular Agents, Comprehension, Female, Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice, Heart Failure, Humans, Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors, Male, Middle Aged, Nitrates, Patient Compliance, Patient Education as Topic, Patient Participation, Physician-Patient Relations, Qualitative Research, Sodium Potassium Chloride Symporter Inhibitors, United Kingdom