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Spousal support in a behavior change intervention for cholesterol management.

Sperber NR, Sandelowski M, Voils CI. Spousal support in a behavior change intervention for cholesterol management. Patient education and counseling. 2013 Jul 1; 92(1):121-6.

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OBJECTIVE: To evaluate spousal involvement in a nurse-led intervention for patients with high cholesterol in which patients set health goals and spouses learned support strategies. METHODS: Qualitative interviews were conducted with 29 patients and 26 spouses who received the intervention during a trial. Interviews were stratified by patient LDL-C change (better, same, worse). Coded text was content analyzed, and organized into thematic matrices, with columns indicating individuals (spouse or patient) and rows indicating dyads. RESULTS: Patients and spouses reported no drawbacks to spousal involvement; some patients whose LDL-C did not improve wanted more focus on spouse health. Spouses said that the nurse's expertise and interest were helpful and they were better able to communicate with patients about health. Although the program helped couples work together, spouses with better or same LDL-C talked more about functioning as a unit, whereas those whose partners had worse LDL-C talked more about functioning as individuals. CONCLUSION: Although the spousal role was accepted, there were variations in level of involvement. More active spousal involvement might relate to better patient outcomes. For less involved spouses, more focus on their health may improve commitment or involvement. PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS: These findings can inform ways to generate spousal support in future trials.

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