About Healing Heart Together

Healing Hearts Together (HHT) is a relationship-education program for couples that aims to enhance couples’ relationship quality, and mental and physical health.

The aim of HHT is to help develop emotional responsiveness and engagement between partners after one individual is faced with a cardiac event or procedure.

Strong attachments help individuals thrive; this involves feeling understood, validated, and cared-for by their partner. The program guides couples through conversations in which they:

  1. learn to clearly communicate their need for connection and reassurance; and
  2. learn about patients’ and partners’ unique experiences with heart disease, so that they can best manage the disease.

Based on feedback from previous participants, the program also provides an opportunity for patients to share their experiences with other patients, while partners share with other partners.

Am I eligible?

  • Are you currently in a romantic relationship?
  • Have you been in this relationship for at least 1-year?
  • Have you or your partner been hospitalized for a cardiac-related event or procedure in the past 6 months?

If you answered “yes” to these questions, you may be eligible to participate.

What is involved in the study?

If you are eligible to participate in the study, you will be asked to attend a “baseline” assessment with your partner at the UOHI. We will ask both partners to complete some questionnaires before this appointment. The questionnaires can be done online or on paper. The baseline appointment will take about two hours and can be broken up into two appointments if needed. At this appointment, we will take some basic health measures (height, weight).

You and your partner will also participate in a discussion, during which you have a conversation about things you may disagree about at times. While you talk, we measure blood pressure, heart rate variability and collect saliva samples.

After this assessment, you will be randomized into the Healing Hearts Together group or the “Usual Care” group. Usual care means that you will receive the standard care as you normally would at UOHI. Regardless of the group that you are in, we will ask you to come back to repeat the assessment two and six months later. Your parking costs will be covered for each visit.  

We have been randomized to the Healing Hearts Together group. What does that mean?

If you are randomized to the Healing Hearts Together group, you and your partner will be asked to attend 8 weekly 2-hour sessions. The group sessions will take place via videoconferencing or at the UOHI. We will be offering sessions during the day or in the evenings, depending on participants’ availability.

We have been randomized to the “Usual Care” group. What does that mean?

In the “Usual Care” group, you will proceed with your cardiac care as normal (e.g., following up with your cardiologist or cardiac rehabilitation). We will still ask you to come back to repeat the assessment 2 and 6 months later.

For more information about the study and what it involves, please download the Healing Hearts Together participant information and consent form (PDF).

If you have any questions about the study or would like to sign up to participate, please contact the research coordinator at (613) 696-7000 x 15406 or couples@ottawaheart.ca.

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