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Cardiology Research and Practice
Volume 2012, Article ID 616372, 10 pages
Research Article

Gender Differences in the Influence of Social Support on One-Year Changes in Functional Status in Older Patients with Heart Failure

School of Nursing, Queen’s University, Kingston, ON, Canada K7L 3N6

Received 6 February 2012; Accepted 25 April 2012

Academic Editor: Javed Butler

Copyright © 2012 Danielle M. Berard et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The purpose of this study was to determine the combined effects of gender and levels of social support on 1-year functional health outcomes in older persons diagnosed with heart failure (HF). Persons ≥ 65 years of age with an acute HF exacerbation (164 females; 271 males) were enrolled and followed for a year. Participants completed baseline and 12-month questionnaires containing clinical and demographic descriptive information and validated self-report measures of: (1) physical functioning (Medical Outcome Study [MOS] SF12 and Kansas City Cardiomyopathy Questionnaire [KCCQ]) and (2) social support (MOS- Social Support Survey). Women were more likely to be single, widowed or divorced, living alone and earning less annual income. At baseline, women reported significantly lower support and physical function scores. However, at 1 year there were no significant gender differences in the proportion of men or women who experienced clinically meaningful functional decline or death across the year of follow-up. In multivariable modeling, men with lower levels of social support were more likely to experience functional decline. This was not the case for women. Our findings suggest that gender-directed strategies to promote optimization of function for both men and women living with HF in their community are warranted.