Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science in Nursing

Degree Level





Smith-Blair, Nan

Committee Member/Reader

Teal, Tabatha

Committee Member/Second Reader

Hale, Cathy


Background: As the incidence of heart failure (HF) quickly becomes the leading cause of disability among older adults, the need for non-professional, in-home caregivers increases as well. Many caregivers are family members who receive no compensation for their efforts, but all are an invaluable tool in the fight against a debilitating disease. Patients with caregivers experience an improved quality of life and lower mortality rates than patients with little social support. The caregiver of a patient with HF may be responsible for everyday activities such as housekeeping and shopping, as well as more complex disease-related necessities as managing medication regimens and fluid restrictions. The stresses associated with caring for a loved one with a progressive and life-altering disease can take a toll on the caregiver, contributing to a decrease in caregiver health and increase in mortality.

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to explore how stress factors of caring for an individual with HF impact the emotional health, physical health, social activity, relationships, and lifestyle of the caregiver.

Methodology: The study protocol was approved by the University of Arkansas and Washington Regional Medical Center Institutional Review Boards. Patients were accessed through a HF clinic in Northwest Arkansas, the Advanced Nurse Practitioner identifying patients that met the criteria of having an unpaid caregiver as defined in the study. The prospective cohort study was conducted September to December 2016 with 29 individuals identified as friends or family members of a patient with HF who provided care to the HF patient and received no financial compensation for their services. The Caregiver Burden Questionnaire – HF Version 3.0, consists of 26 questions regarding how the caregiver’s experience has been over the past four weeks of caregiving, and was used to measure four domains of physical, emotional/psychological, social, and lifestyle burdens.

Results: Summary scores were created for all variables and descriptive statistics used. A Spearman’s rank-order correlation was used to determine the strength and direction of the association between variables. In agreement with previous research findings, physical health of the caregiver was positively correlated with emotional well-being.

Discussion: Being a caregiver for a patient with HF can cause strain for the caregiver, but can also be rewarding. The benefits, such as feeling a sense of reward through helping someone else, can provide an emotional buffer that supports the caregiver through times of hospitalization or decline in the patient’s condition. Our findings suggest that interventions implemented to increase the caregiver’s perception of emotional support, perhaps through repeated contact by a healthcare professional, could improve caregiver, and therefore patient, outcomes.