Professor Emerita

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Annually, one in every four deaths is due to heart disease. Through her extensive research into self-care practices of older adults with heart failure—their behaviors, their adherence to medication regimens, and their ability to understand and manage their symptoms— Barbara Riegel has learned that patients who don’t get involved in their care have extremely poor quality of life and die earlier than patients who manage their care. 

Beginning when she was a clinical nurse researcher in an acute care setting and continuing since then, Dr. Riegel has created a rich body of evidence aimed at helping older adults with heart failure enjoy a high quality of life in their own homes. Her work includes development of the Self-Care of Heart Failure Index and numerous other psychometrically sound instruments. These instruments are available on her website: She has received support from her research from NIH, the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, private foundations, and other funders.

“I study ways to help older adults with chronic cardiovascular disease to take better care of themselves. Much of my work has been in heart failure, but these patients rarely have only heart failure, so my recent work has extended to multiple chronic conditions. In addition, I have a strong commitment to mentoring.”


  • PhD, University of California at Los Angeles, 1991 
  • MN, University of California at Los Angeles, 1983 
  • BSN, San Diego State University, 1981