The iCare4Me Project is a 5-year NIH funded randomized control trial (RCT) designed research project. The research project is currently in the final phase of enrollment with an enrollment goal of 250 informal heart failure caregivers. Caregivers of adults with heart failure (HF) are an understudied group. HF is extremely common. Most HF patients remain in the community through the end of their lives, depending on informal caregivers to assist them (such as family members or friends). People who support adults with HF report significant stress and poor self-care. Self-care refers to those behaviors a person undertakes to keep themselves healthy. Engaging in self-care may improve caregivers’ physical functioning and mental well-being and may impact HF patient outcomes. Health coaching, a support intervention, can improve self-care in patients, but studies evaluating HF caregivers are limited. Even less is known about the effect of caregiver support interventions on HF patient outcomes..
This study has the potential to address this underserved and distressed segment of the population by improving their abilities to cope with the stress of providing daily care to a loved one with a severe, debilitating, and chronic illness and refocus their attentions onto themselves (self-care). If perceived stress decreases in caregivers and they are able to care for themselves more effectively, this study will provide a new and innovative way to increase the support available for these caregivers.
“Those who care for others contribute to society in such important ways. But caregiving can be hard and stressful. The focus of this project is on taking care of caregivers. We have developed resources designed to help make caregiving easier and less stressful. Our focus is on self-care – helping you take better care of yourself – because you are important!”
Dr. Barbara Riegel, PhD, RN, FAHA, FAAN
“Having a healthy and supportive caregiver is the most important aspect of patient outcomes.
We have learned that psychosocial support helps to lead to improved outcomes with advanced therapies (transplant and VAD therapy). The focus of our therapies and interactions are largely with the patient, but attention to the caregiver and potentially the stress the caregiver is under when their loved one is ill may be beneficial to further improve outcomes.”
Dr. Joyce W. Wald, DO, FACC