Psychosocial Issues Psychosocial Issues

Education provided to individuals with a cardiac condition and their partners/carers improves knowledge, reduces anxiety and stress, and increases the likelihood of health behaviour modification. For further information see Patient education.

Advocacy involves providing an individual with the support, encouragement or representation required to exercise their rights and to ensure their rights are respected. The health professional may be required to write, speak or act on behalf of the individual or support person, to ensure access to appropriate care, support and resources, as required.

Advocacy may include:

  • Providing an employer with information regarding an individual’s condition and negotiating adequate support for a return-to-work program
  • Representing the individual at government and non-government agencies to ensure access to appropriate housing, domestic assistance support or income support

Ensure individuals and their families are linked to appropriate support services or resources to assist in the management of their cardiac condition and to ensure social connectedness. A psychosocial assessment will help identify what information and referrals may be required.

Families and caregivers often suffer considerable changes to their lifestyle and emotional status due to the person’s cardiac condition. They play a vital role in supporting the person with the condition, and should be included where appropriate, and referred for psychosocial intervention, if necessary.

Support interventions for patients, family and carers include:

  • Counselling
  • Referrals to community support
  • Respite care

The Resources section contains further information on the supports available to caregivers.

All patients should be given information and education about advance care planning.  

Advance care planning can be carried out informally or formally. Most jurisdictions in Australia make provisions to automatically appoint an authority to make health care decisions on the individual’s behalf in the event of an adult’s ability to make decisions being permanently or temporarily impaired. The law varies between jurisdictions on who can be given this authority and the decisions that can be made. Formal advance care planning consists of the patient formally writing down his or her wishes in a legal document such as an Advance Health Directive and/or appointing someone to make decisions in an Enduring Power of Attorney or equivalent.

An Advance Health Directive should be reviewed at least every 2 years or when there is a major change in the individual’s health status. For further information see the Advance Care Planning website and information on Respecting Patient Choices, or contact the Department of Justice or Public Trustee within your State or Territory (see also

If a legal document is completed, advise individuals of the importance of keeping the documents in a safe place. Certified copies should be provided to the individual’s doctor, attorney for personal and health matters, family members, friends and the hospital where they receive treatment.

End-of-life care primarily involves the provision of counselling and support to the individual and family. Other assistance may include advocacy, referrals to appropriate support or resolving financial concerns. Clinicians may need to provide information about advance care planning options and the preparation of a will.  

The CareSearch palliative care knowledge network website, has further information about available resources and services, and the role of health professionals in delivering end-of-life care.