Background: Whilst almost 50% of heart failure (HF) patients have preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF), evidence-based treatment options for this patient group remain limited. However, there is growing evidence of the potential value of exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation. This study reports the process evaluation of the Rehabilitation Enablement in Chronic Heart Failure (REACH-HF) intervention for HFpEF patients and their caregivers conducted as part of the REACH-HFpEF pilot trial.
Methods: Process evaluation sub-study parallels to a single-centre (Tayside, Scotland) randomised controlled pilot trial with qualitative assessment of both intervention fidelity delivery and HFpEF patients’ and caregivers’ experiences. The REACH-HF intervention consisted of self-help manual for patients and caregivers, facilitated over 12 weeks by trained healthcare professionals. Interviews were conducted following completion of intervention in a purposeful sample of 15 HFpEF patients and seven caregivers.
Results: Qualitative information from the facilitator interactions and interviews identified three key themes for patients and caregivers: (1) understanding their condition, (2) emotional consequences of HF, and (3) responses to the REACH-HF intervention. Fidelity analysis found the interventions to be delivered adequately with scope for improvement in caregiver engagement. The differing professional backgrounds of REACH-HF facilitators in this study demonstrate the possibility of delivery of the intervention by healthcare staff with expertise in HF, cardiac rehabilitation, or both.
Conclusions: The REACH-HF home-based facilitated intervention for HFpEF appears to be a feasible and a well-accepted model for the delivery of rehabilitation, with the potential to address key unmet needs of patients and their caregivers who are often excluded from HF and current cardiac rehabilitation programmes. Results of this study will inform a recently funded full multicentre randomised clinical trial. Trial registration: ISRCTN78539530 (date of registration 7 July 2015).
- Cardiac rehabilitation
- Heart failure
- Preserved ejection fraction
- Process evaluation