Coping Skills and Heart Failure: Outcomes and Mechanisms (COPE-HF)

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Duke University




Heart Failure


Behavioral: Coping skills training

Study type


Funder types



1R01HL091920-01A1 (U.S. NIH Grant/Contract)

Details and patient eligibility


This study will evaluate whether heart failure patients receiving a 16 week telephone delivered, intervention using cognitive behavior therapy to facilitate self-management of heart failure will have better clinical outcomes than heart failure patients receiving a 16 week heart failure education intervention via telephone.

Full description

Over 5 million Americans suffer from heart failure (HF), with an associated annual health care cost in excess of $33 billion. With 500,000 new cases developing each year, HF is the only major cardiovascular disease that is increasing in prevalence. Despite intensive medical therapy, symptom instability and clinical deterioration are common and lead to frequent physician visits, hospitalization, and ultimately death. HF symptoms, including dyspnea and fatigue, are a major source of distress for patients with HF, and often impose severe limitations on their daily activities. Depression also is common in HF patients, and its presence is associated with increased risk of hospitalization and mortality, independent of disease severity. There is growing evidence that behavioral management is a critical component of living with HF that can reduce hospitalizations and help optimize health status. Although previous studies have demonstrated that case-management programs are effective, benefits appear to be short-lived once ongoing care is reduced. Prior research from our laboratory and others has shown that coping skills training (CST), designed both to teach patients self-management skills and to cope more effectively with psychological distress associated with their medical condition, is effective for such chronic diseases as diabetes, ischemic heart disease, and lung disease. However, CST has not yet been evaluated as an intervention to facilitate self-management of HF. We propose a randomized clinical trial comparing a 16-week CST intervention with Extended (Standardized) Care in a study sample of 200 HF outpatients, who are receiving medical treatment for HF according to current clinical practice guidelines. The CST intervention, delivered over the telephone, is designed reduce stress and depression and to improve aspects of health behavior that are related to HF outcomes, including symptom monitoring, medication adherence, dietary compliance, and physical activity. Before and following treatment, patients will be carefully assessed on important intermediate medical endpoints including HF disease biomarkers (B-type natriuretic peptide, ejection fraction, vascular endothelial function, autonomic regulation, and inflammatory activity), as well as on quality of life (QoL) indicated by both physical and psychosocial functioning. Effects of CST on clinical outcomes will be evaluated according to all-cause hospitalizations or mortality over a median follow-up period of 3 years. The data generated by the proposed study will provide important insights regarding the value of CST over and above usual medical care. If successful, we believe that the study findings should translate into initial recommendations for the incorporation of CST into self-management behavioral interventions as cost-effective approaches to enhance disease management, QoL and longevity in HF patients.


190 patients




21+ years old


No Healthy Volunteers

Inclusion criteria

  • Men or women aged 21 years or older
  • New York Heart Association (NYHA) Class I-IV HF of at least 3-months duration
  • Left ventricular Ejection Fraction (EF) < 40% by left ventricular angiography, nuclear wall motion study, or echocardiography, within 6 months of study enrollment
  • Undergoing treatment with a stable medication regimen.

Exclusion criteria

  • Myocardial Infarction (MI), Percutaneous Transluminal Coronary Angioplasty(PTCA), Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG) within 3 months of enrollment
  • HF due to correctable cause or condition such as uncorrected primary valvular disease
  • Alcohol or drug abuse within 12 months
  • Illness such as malignancies that are associated with a life-expectancy of < 12 months
  • Current pregnancy
  • Inability to provide informed consent

Trial design

Primary purpose

Supportive Care



Interventional model

Parallel Assignment


Double Blind

190 participants in 2 patient groups

Coping Skills Training
Experimental group
16 week telephone intervention using coping skills training to teach heart failure patients self-management skills and how to cope more effectively with psychological distress associated with heart failure.
Behavioral: Coping skills training
Educational Control
Active Comparator group
16 weekly telephone calls for extended (standardized) care on heart failure education.
Behavioral: Coping skills training

Trial contacts and locations



Data sourced from

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