Spirituality linked to better quality of life for heart failure patients

Mohamed Nohassi/Unsplash

A new literature review found that spirituality can have a positive impact on quality of life (QOL) for heart failure patients and concluded that it should be considered a potential target for palliative care interventions to improve patient-centered care and clinical outcomes.

The review, published in JACC Heart Failure, was conducted by researchers at Duke University. Researchers evaluated a review of 47 articles in order to explore the current knowledge of spirituality in patients with heart failure and described the relationships between spirituality, QOL, and heart failure outcomes. They also proposed clinical applications and strategies regarding spiritual care among these patients.

According to the review, previous studies have suggested spirituality serves as a potential target for palliative care interventions to improve QOL, caregiver support, and patient outcomes, including rehospitalization and mortality. Researchers evaluated these studies and recommended the development of a spirituality-screening tool, similar to the Patient Health Questionnaire – 2 used to screen for depression, to help identify patients with heart failure at risk for spiritual distress.

Spirituality defined spirituality as how individuals find meaning and purpose in life, which can be separate from religious beliefs.

“The literature suggests not only can spirituality improve quality of life for the patient, it can help support caregivers and potentially help heart failure patients from needing to be readmitted to the hospital,” said Rachel S. Tobin, MD, resident in Internal Medicine at Duke University Hospital, and lead author of the study. “What we have suggested and are now doing is developing a spirituality screening tool, similar to ones used to screen for depression. This can be used to identify heartfailure patients in palliative care who are at risk for spiritual distress. However, this is just a start. More research needs to be done.”