As advances in medical treatment of heart failure (HF) become limited, other factors are being studied to improve outcomes. There is much evidence that supportive social relations have a major impact on health outcomes and that social support is essential for adjustment to illness. This article describes current research on the influence of social support on outcomes in patients with HF. A computerized literature search in Medline, CINAHL, and PsychLit was performed on each of the different outcomes in relation to social support, covering the period 1993 to 2003. Seventeen studies were found that investigated the relationship between social support and different outcome measures in HF. Four studies found clear relationships between social support and rehospitalizations and mortality; the relationship between quality of life and depression was less clear. Up to now, limited research has been done on the impact of social support on outcomes in patients with HF. The available studies suggest that social support has an impact on HF outcomes but further research is necessary before firm conclusions about the nature of these relationships can be reached.
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