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Women’s experience with myocardial infarction: a phenomenological approach Bowers, Michele J.


The purpose of this study was to examine the nature of women's experience of myocardial infarction (MI) from a subjective perspective in order to explore and describe how women made meaning of this potentially life threatening event. A phenomenological approach was used to guide the data collection and analysis. Data were collected through in-depth semi- structured interviews with a volunteer sample of 10 female coresearchers hospitalized with MI at a local city hospital. The initial interview focused on obtaining a description of coresearcher's experience and was conducted after women were transferred from the critical care unit to the cardiac ward. I conducted validation interviews with co-researchers several weeks post hospital discharge via telephone. The validation interview provided co-researchers with the opportunity to confirm or clarify my understanding of the description of their MI experience, as well as providing any further information that would crystallize my understanding of their story. Audiotaped interviews were transcribed verbatim and analyzed according to Giorgi's (1975, 1985) method of phenomenological data analysis. Nine common themes emerged from the data including: (a) the experience of illness awareness; (b) the experience of feeling emotionally overwhelmed; (c) the experience of fear and worry; (d) the experience of loss; (e) difficulty asking for help; (f) the experience of needing information; (g) the experience of care and support; (h) making sense of the MI experience; and (i) the experience of planning for the future. evident in co-researcher accounts, the uniqueness of each woman was captured and reflected in the variations in which the themes were expressed. The implications of this research suggest the importance of understanding women's experience of MI at a subjective level in order to fully understand the extent and nature of women's issues and concerns within this area. Thus counselling psychologists should act as both educators and counsellors in order to raise the awareness of other health professionals as to the nature of women's experience of MI, to assist in the teaching of skills that would better enable the implementation of patient-centered care, and to provide women a forum through which they can receive counselling related to issues surrounding MI. Moreover, results of this study provide the basis for future research, and in helping medical professionals implement the provision of cardiac care that is more germane to women.

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