Spiritual Support in Advanced Heart Failure : A Randomized Controlled Feasibility Study

Jackie Miles, Linda Ross, Paul Jarvis, Sara Pickett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Heart failure is a complex, progressive disease with an uncertain trajectory. Those with advanced heart failure (AHF) experience substantial spiritual needs. Spiritual interventions may enhance quality of life and reduce anxiety and depression, but studies are limited and none have focused exclusively on the AHF patient population.

Originality: This is the first feasibility randomized controlled trial (RCT) to ascertain the clinical and cost effectiveness of a spiritual intervention (spiritual support) in AHF patients.

Method: 47 AHF patients randomised to control (standard care, n=25) or intervention (standard care plus spiritual support, n=22) groups. Spiritual support consisted of a 1-hour discussion facilitated by trained volunteers using a ‘Spiritual Enquiry Tool’ at 2 monthly intervals over 6 months. Participants completed validated measures of spiritual wellbeing, depression/anxiety and health related quality of life (QoL). Purpose designed questionnaires gathered information on demographics, NHS resource use, confounding factors and satisfaction with spiritual support.

Significance: New information to help researchers design a RCT to determine the clinical and cost effectiveness of spiritual support within a holistic model of care for AHF patients.

Trends worthy of further investigation:
-possible positive effect of spiritual support on QoL and anxiety
-possible lower NHS resource use and cost savings in patients receiving spiritual support.

Key message: Researchers must weigh up if the cost of running a well-designed trial of this nature is justified in the current economic climate where funding bodies are looking for value for money.

Key Words: Heart failure; spirituality; spiritual support; spiritual interventions; randomized controlled trial.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191–215
Number of pages25
JournalHealth and Social Care Chaplaincy
Issue number2
Early online date14 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2021


  • Heart failure
  • spirituality
  • spiritual support
  • spiritual interventions
  • randomized controlled trial


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