Decision-Making for Destination Therapy Left Ventricular Assist Devices: Implications for Caregivers

Academic Article


  • Implanting centers often require the identification of a dedicated caregiver before destination therapy left ventricular assist device (DT LVAD) implantation; however, the caregiver experience surrounding this difficult decision is relatively unexplored. Methods and Results-From October 2012 through July 2013, we conducted semistructured, in-depth interviews with caregivers of patients considering DT LVAD. Data were analyzed using a mixed inductive and deductive approach. We interviewed 17 caregivers: 10 caregivers of patients living with DT LVAD, 6 caregivers of patients who had died with DT LVAD, and 1 caregiver of a patient who had declined DT LVAD. The themes identified, which could also be considered dialectical tensions, are broadly interpreted under 3 domains mapping to decision context, process, and outcome: (1) the stark decision context, with tension between hope and reality; (2) the challenging decision process, with tension between wanting loved ones to live and wanting to respect loved ones' wishes; and (3) the downstream decision outcome, with tension between gratitude and burden. Conclusions-Decision-making surrounding DT LVAD should incorporate decision support for patients and caregivers. This should include a focus on caregiver burden and the predictable tensions that caregivers experience.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • McIlvennan CK; Jones J; Allen LA; Lindenfeld J; Swetz KM; Nowels C; Matlock DD
  • Start Page

  • 172
  • End Page

  • 178
  • Volume

  • 8
  • Issue

  • 2