Egible studies needed to meet the following inclusion criteria: focus on health service interventions for adults; focus on people recovering from heart disease; target close relatives of patients with heart disease; and focus on treatment and aftercare (rather than causes of disease).
Included studies were from USA and Canada. All had an educational component and aimed to ensure the well-being of either patients or relatives or both; most studies targeted both. Participant numbers varied from five to 296 couples. Definitions of relatives varied, but most were spouses. The studies were largely based on male patients and female relatives. Studies focused mostly on families affected by acute rather than chronic heart disease. The number and length of sessions in the programmes and content varied across the studies. Half of the studies took a quantitative approach and half took a qualitative approach to evaluation of outcomes. Studies mostly assessed mental well-being and/or satisfaction with treatment.
One reviewer selected studies for the review.