Individuals with heart failure (HF) have difficulty evaluating their symptoms, understanding when to seek health care, and implementing self-care activities. The purpose of this qualitative study was to inform the development of a heart failure action plan (HFAP) for individuals living with HF. This study used a prospective, descriptive qualitative design with a content analysis approach. The HFAP included clinical indicators of self-reported symptoms, adherence to medication regimen, and physiologic changes. Patients with HF reviewed the HFAP and provided their perceptions to assist in developing the action plan. Participants had a mean age of 65 years, predominately male (78%) and African American (89%). Comorbidities included hypertension, atrial fibrillation, chronic kidney disease, ischemic heart disease, valvular heart disease, and diabetes mellitus. Five thematic categories emerged: (1) Understanding of symptoms and symptom severity, (2) management of symptoms, (3) educational opportunities, (4) changes, and (5) satisfaction. Participants suggested adding content about exercise, diet, additional symptom management, and a compact portable HFAP. Participants provided their perceptions of the HFAP. Their feedback was instrumental in modifying the action plan for use in a broader HF patient population to assist patients in self-management, including the understanding of when to seek health care.
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