A perspective taking intervention to enhance family caregiver symptom assessment and improve symptom management for the heart failure patient

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Scoville, Christine
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Community care of heart failure (HF) requires ongoing management often involving family caregivers (FCG). FCGs who misunderstand patients’ (PT) symptom experiences may contribute to poor symptom management. This study tested for improved perceptual agreement between the FCG and the PT after FCG’s were instructed to engage in perspective-taking. Davis’ (1990) organizational model of empathy guided this one-group pre-test/post-test interventional pilot study (n=14 dyads). Wilcoxon signed-rank test evaluated PT/FCG discrepancy scores on the HF Symptom Survey (HFSS) and the Empathic Responding Scale (ERS). A qualitative interview captured PT and FCG responses to the intervention. Six of 14 HFSS symptoms demonstrated significantly improved perceptual agreement along at least one of four symptom dimensions: frequency, severity, interference with physical activity, and interference with enjoyment of life. Study findings provided ongoing evidence in support of a perspective-taking intervention that has a promising effect on improving or sustaining FCG’s understanding of the PT’s symptom experiences.