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Gazzetta Medica Italiana Archivio per le Scienze Mediche 2007 February;166(1):15-23


language: Italian

Family involvement in cardiac rehabilitation: facts or fiction?

Gambelli E., Pastena G., Piccoli M., Cerquetani E., Gambelli G., Salustri A.

U.O. Cardiologia, Policlinico Luigi Di Liegro, Roma


Aim. Previous studies suggest an important role of family support in determining the outcome of patients with heart diseases. Ideally, psychological support to the care-givers may result in a better clinical outcome of these patients. Aim of this study was to investigate the emotional involvement of patient’s family after a cardiac event.
Methods. A family member of 157 consecutive patients referred to our Cardiac Rehabilita-tion Unit after a cardiac event (cardiac surgery and myocardial infarction) were evaluated by an interview to address or five items: 1. Family reaction to the disease; 2. Anxiety about patient’s home return; 3. Need for psychological support to the patient; 4. Need for psychological support to the patient’s family; 5. Link between patient’s family and General Practitio-ner. Results were analyzed according gender of patient’s caregiver.
Results. 150 patients (95%) answered to the interview. In 58% of the family members, patient disease cause some changes in their life, but with a positive reaction. Anxiety is present about patient’s home return: 43% don’t know how to treat the patient, 24% are troubled to leave him alone at home, and 26% are anxious to underestimate new symptoms. A psychological support is important for the patient and for the patient family, and in 15% individual psychological colloquies are required. General Practitioner is felt as an important reference after hospital discharge (89%) and a suitable link with hospital team.
Conclusion. Our data show that family members are highly involved in the daily management of patients after a cardiac event, and their own lifestyle is greatly affected. Family members are often worried about home return of patients, and perceive a difficult approach with the patient and possible failure in identifying cardiac symptoms. Thus, psychological support is highly desirable both for patient and his family. At this end, General Practitioner plays an essential role after patient discharge and could significantly affect the quality of care of chronic illness.

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