BACKGROUND: Clinical and US regulatory guidelines for patients with mechanical circulatory support (MCS) require the identification of a caregiver to assist with MCS care. There is limited understanding of the impact of MCS caregiving on patients and caregivers. The purpose of this study was to examine how living with MCS affects the quality of life (QoL) of patients and their caregivers through the lens of preparedness and mutuality. METHODS AND RESULTS: The sample included 30 MCS patients and their caregivers. Semistructured qualitative interviews about factors contributing to QoL were conducted with patients and caregivers and analyzed using a 2-phase thematic process. Caregiving impacts QoL of MCS patients and their caregivers long term. When there was limited time to engage in decision-making about MCS implantation, people entered MCS caregiving relationships naive to its full demands. Although most people adjusted to the task demands, MCS caregiving had a significant impact, both positive and negative, on interpersonal relationships. We applied the concepts of preparedness and mutuality to help frame the understanding of the emergent themes of forced choice, adjustment, gratitude, relationship change, strain, and burden (both caregiver and patient perceived). Availability of networks of support was identified as a crucial resource. CONCLUSIONS: MCS caregiving affects QoL for both patients and caregivers. Specifically, preparedness, mutuality, and availability of supportive networks influence QoL of MCS patients and their caregivers. Caregiving relationships change over time. Long-term support by the MCS clinical team can help ensure that physical and emotional needs of MCS patients and caregivers are identified and addressed.
- heart failure
- quality of life
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine