Palliative care in chronic heart failure: a theoretically guided, qualitative meta-synthesis of decision-making

Gursharan K. Singh, Serra E. Ivynian, Caleb Ferguson, Patricia M. Davidson, Phillip J. Newton

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


International clinical practice guidelines recommend that patients with chronic heart failure receive timely and high-quality palliative care. However, integrating palliative care is highly variable and dependent on decision-making and care models. This meta-synthesis aimed to examine health care professionals’ decision-making processes and explore factors impacting decisions to refer or deliver palliative care in chronic heart failure. The electronic databases SCOPUS, CINAHL, and Medline were searched. Included studies were those that reported health care professionals’ perceptions of palliative care in chronic heart failure through qualitative data collection, were written in English, and were peer-reviewed articles. Included articles were analysed using Thomas and Harden’s approach. The dual-process theory was used and applied a priori to organise the findings. The perception of palliative care as a transition and active treatment failure fit within the intuitive system of thinking in the dual-process theory. The theme that overlapped into both intuitive and analytical systems of thinking was acquiring patient and illness information themes reflecting the analytical system of thinking were professional role and experience, pre-existing decision pathways, and balancing viewpoints. This meta-synthesis identified factors influencing the decision-making process in referring patients with chronic heart failure to palliative care. The findings from this review highlight the need for further development of decision-making tools or facilitate guidelines to assist health care professionals’ shared decision-making to improve patient outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)457-467
Number of pages11
JournalHeart Failure Reviews
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2020


  • Decision-making
  • Heart failure
  • Meta-synthesis
  • Palliative care
  • Qualitative review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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