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ICD Support Groups: A Safe Space to Discuss the Lifestyle Adjustments of a Cardiac Device

ICD Support Groups: A Safe Space to Discuss the Lifestyle Adjustments of a Cardiac Device

Cardiac device support group

“As a healthcare worker I realize that I seriously underestimate the impact on patients receiving an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD). Besides the patients I have the pleasure of caring for, I do not know anyone personally living with an ICD. Perhaps you do, but I am willing to bet a good majority of clinicians and device specialists do not know firsthand on what life is truly like for ICD patients.”

by Melissa Campbell, CDRMS, PrepMD RMS Remote Monitoring Specialist

According to the JAMA, more than half a million people within the United States have an ICD.1 As common as that may be, I question how healthcare professionals can better understand and serve the needs of ICD patients.

Of course, we do our best to provide education and information within the brief window of clinic visits and device checks, but that is usually at prompted questions initiated by the patient.  How many patients leave their appointments needing more understanding about their newly diagnosed heart condition and their implanted cardiac device? 

A recent study suggests that offering an effective ICD support group can provide patients with a safe space to discuss the emotional impact and lifestyle adjustments from having an ICD. 

Benefits of ICD Support Groups:

  • Improved quality of life
  • Enhanced communication with healthcare providers
  • Greater understanding of heart disease and cardiac devices 
  • Education on device follow up via remote monitoring 

The value of organizing an ICD support group will not only meet the initiatives listed above but can offer practical pathways for clinics and hospitals to increase engagement and overall patient satisfaction. It is an opportunity to for learning through dialogue while serving a vulnerable patient population.

If your clinic or organization is considering a support group for cardiac device patients, here is a short list of things to bear in mind:

  • Interest
  • Subject matter
  • Access
  • Promotion

To initially get the ICD support group started there must be some level interest. The literature suggests that patients were more likely to participate in a support group within the first couple of years of ICD implant. A survey conducted within device clinics can offer data on general interest of a support group and topics that patients want to discuss. 

Another thing to consider is patient access to the support group. Based on the size of the clinic or if the clinic has multiple sites, perhaps a hybrid of in-person and virtual options would permit high participation. The ICD support group is to offer support and not be an added burden. There are many creative options available for clinics to connect with patients.

Lastly, advertise that a support group is available! By enlisting the assistance of discharge nurses, front desk workers or any other healthcare personnel that encounter ICD patients can help promote the support group.

For more information check out this article in the link below.

https://bmchealthservres.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12913-021-06735-3

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