The psychological impact of implantable cardioverter-defibrillator recalls and the durable positive effects of counseling

John D. Fisher, Konstantinos P. Koulogiannis, Linda Lewallen, Daniel Katz, Soo G. Kim, Kevin J. Ferrick, Jay N. Gross, Andrew K. Krumerman, Debra R. Johnston, Bridget C. Mercaldi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Background: It is known that patients with lifesaving devices such as implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) may be alarmed and worried by recalls or alerts related to their ICDs. Objectives: This study aimed to determine whether counseling has any short- or long-term benefits, and to look for characteristics that identify those most worried and those most in need of counseling. Methods: Among 100 patients with recall or alert ICDs, 14 were pacer dependent; 50 had ICDs for 1° prevention and 22 were women. Patients completed a survey indicating how worried they were on learning of the recall or alert (0-10 scale). After counseling and advice in accordance with manufacturer guidelines, patients were asked to indicate their level of worry, and were again asked after 6 months. Results: For all patients, the "worry level" at the initial interview was 5.0 ± 3.7, falling to 2.2 ± 3.0 after counseling (P < 0.001) and 1.4 ± 2.3 after 6 months (P < 0.001 vs both earlier levels). There were no significant differences between those implanted for 1° versus 2° prevention or for pacer dependency. Women were initially more worried than men, but not for the long term. The 49 patients whose ICDs could be managed by reprogramming or software fix had significant reduction in worry after counseling and at 6 months compared to others. The 18 patients recommended for operative intervention remained more concerned after counseling (3.5 ± 3.3 vs 1.9 ± 2.9, P = 0.043). Conclusions: Patients' concerns resulting from ICD recalls or alerts can be reduced by appropriate counseling. Those patients whose ICDs could be reprogrammed to safer parameters had the most reduction in worry levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1012-1016
Number of pages5
JournalPACE - Pacing and Clinical Electrophysiology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2009


  • Alerts
  • Counseling
  • Defibrillator
  • ICD
  • Psychological impact
  • Recalls

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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