Educational Resources for Patients Considering a Left Ventricular Assist Device
A Cross-Sectional Review of Internet, Print, and Multimedia Materials
Background—Left ventricular assist devices (LVADs) are being used with increasing frequency to treat severe heart failure. Patients seek out informational resources when considering implantation. The primary study objective was to characterize the scope and quality of available LVAD educational materials.
Methods and Results—In July 2013, we performed a cross-sectional search of Internet, print, and multimedia resources available to patients considering LVAD. Written materials <10 sentences, videos <2 minutes, and materials clearly directed to healthcare professionals were excluded. Seventy-seven materials met inclusion criteria. Potential benefits of LVAD therapy were discussed in all (n=77), whereas less often mentioned were risks (n=43), lifestyle considerations (n=29), surgical details (n=26), caregiver information (n=9), and hospice or palliative care (n=2). Of the 14 materials that recognized a decision or alternate treatment option, 7 used outdated statistics, 12 scored above an eighth grade reading comprehension level, and 12 met <50% of International Patient Decision Aid Standards criteria. In the survey participants rated all but one as biased toward accepting LVAD therapy.
Conclusions—Although many resources exist for patients considering an LVAD, the content is suboptimal. Benefits of LVADs are often presented in the absence of risks, alternative options, and caregiver considerations. Most materials use outdated statistics, are above the reading level of average Americans, and are biased toward accepting LVAD therapy. There is no tool that would qualify as a formal decision aid.
- Received January 23, 2014.
- Accepted September 9, 2014.
- © 2014 American Heart Association, Inc.