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Counseling May Not Help Heart Failure Patients Comply With Rx
Date:9/22/2010

By Jenifer Goodwin
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Sept. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Living with heart failure can put a patient on overload. The rigors of having to lose weight, strictly limit salt intake, exercise and take a half-dozen or more medications lead many people to disregard their doctor's orders.

Chicago researchers thought that a combination of group counseling and reading materials on how to manage heart failure would improve adherence to medical recommendations, but their new study finds otherwise. The two-pronged approach was no more effective than simply giving patients reading materials, they found.

Though disappointing, their data did suggest that counseling might be beneficial for lower-income patients, though not more affluent ones, said lead study author Lynda H. Powell, a professor of preventive medicine at Rush University Medical Center.

"This is a health disparities issue," Powell said. "In Chicago, we have three blacks for every white hospitalized for heart failure. Being more attentive to some of the special needs of some of these underserved populations is certainly in order."

For the study, published in the Sept. 22/29 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, 902 patients with mild to moderate heart failure were divided into two groups. One group took part in 18 self-management meetings over the course of a year and also received educational materials; the other group were sent tip sheets on managing the condition and received follow-up calls after each mailing to make sure they understood what they'd read.

The patients' average age was 64. About 40 percent were racial or ethnic minorities, while about 52 percent had an annual family income of less than $30,000. Many patients also had other conditions, including depression, diabetes and lung disease. On average, patients took seven different medications.

During the group sessions, patients receive
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