It remains to be determined whether collaborative strategies to improve and sustain overall health in patients with heart failure (HF) are currently being adopted by health care professionals. We surveyed primary care physicians, nurses and allied health care professionals in Southwestern Ontario regarding how they currently manage HF patients and how they perceive limitations, barriers and challenges in achieving optimal management in these patients.
We developed an online survey based on field expertise and a review of pertinent literature in HF management. We analyzed quantitative data collected via an online questionnaire powered by Qualtrics®. The survey included 87 items, including multiple choice and free text questions. We collected participant demographic and educational background, and information relating to general clinical practice and specific to HF management. The survey was 25 minutes long and was administered in October and November of 2018
We included 118 health care professionals from network lists of affiliated physicians and clinics of the department of Family Medicine at Western University; 88.1% (n=104) were physicians while 11.9% (n=14) were identified as other health care professionals. Two-thirds of our respondents were females (n=72) and nearly one-third were males (n=38). The survey included mostly family physicians (n=74) and family medicine residents (n=25). Most respondents indicated co-managing their HF patients with other health care professionals, including cardiologists and internists. The vast majority of respondents reported preferring to manage their HF patients as part of a team rather than alone. As well, the majority respondents (n=47) indicated being satisfied with the way they currently manage their HF patients; however, some indicated that practice set up and communication resources, followed by experience and education relating to HF guidelines, current drug therapy and medical management were important barriers to optimal management of HF patients.
Most respondents indicated HF management was satisfactory, however, a minority did identify some areas for improvement (communication systems, work more collaborative as a team, education resources and access to specialists). Future research should consider these factors in developing strategies to enhance primary care involvement in co-management of HF patients, within collaborative and multidisciplinary systems of care.