Marie A. Bakitas, DNSc, APRN, FAAN

Bakitas-126-x-176Reducing Barriers to Palliative Care for Heart Failure Patients and Their Families

Dr. Marie Bakitas, Marie O'Koren Endowed Chair has recently been funded by the National Palliative Care Research Center to determine the efficacy of ENABLE: Comprehensive Heartcare For Patients and Caregivers, an intervention tailored to rural, older adults with advanced heart failure (HF) in reducing HF morbidity and improving patient and caregiver quality of life and quality of care.    Read more...

Project ENABLE - Educate, Nurture, Advise, Before Life Ends

Funded by the American Cancer Society, the objective of Dr. Bakitas' grant is to study whether a phone-based palliative care intervention can help reduce access disparities for veterans, minorities and patients from rural areas who have advanced cancer.  Project ENABLE is a phone-based palliative care intervention for patients. Initial work has been done in an academic medical center setting.

Of the 6 million Americans with heart failure (HF), those over age 65 experience the highest morbidity and mortality. Although national heart and palliative care organizations support early palliative care for advanced HF  there has been little progress in increasing HF patients’ access to these services. Only 19% of Medicare- aged HF patients (and their family caregivers) participate in hospice, compared with more than half of advanced cancer patients. Referral barriers to early palliative care in HF include uncertainty about the patient's prognosis a delayed referral until all HF therapies have been exhausted, and beliefs that palliative care is synonymous with hospice and should be reserved for patients who are actively dying.

The original ENABLE (Educate, Nurture, Advise, Before Life Ends) intervention was able to overcome barriers to early palliative care referral and achieve improved QOL, depression, and in some cases, survival outcomes  in advanced cancer patients through a patient and family-centered, phone-based intervention.  Using findings from the ENABLE intervention and a the recently completed Dartmouth Heart Failure Pilot study this current exploratory project builds on findings in which we partnered with cardiologists, primary care clinicians and 10 HF patient / family caregiver dyads to translate our successful concurrent oncology palliative care intervention to meet the needs of HF patients and caregivers.

Related Publications

Bakitas, M., Macmartin, M., Trzepkowski, K., Robert, A., Jackson, L., Brown, J. R., . . . Kono, A. (2013). Palliative care consultations for heart failure patients: how many, when, and why? J Card Fail, 19(3), 193-201. doi: 10.1016/j.cardfail.2013.01.011

Williams, AL and Bakitas, M. (2012) Cancer Family Caregivers: A New Direction for Interventions. J Palliat Med. 15(7): 775-783.

Bakitas M, Lyons K, Hegel M, et al. Effects of a palliative care intervention on clinical outcomes in patients with advanced cancer: The Project ENABLE II Randomized Controlled Trial. JAMA.2009;302(7):741-749.