UBC Theses and Dissertations
Women’s perceptions of their illness experience with myocardial infarction Dunn, Penelope Claire
This study was designed to elicit women's perceptions of their illness experience with myocardial infarction for the purpose of exploring and describing the nature and meaning of this illness experience and its impact on everyday life. The phenomenological method, a type of qualitative research, was used to direct the study. The data were compiled through a series of semi-structured intensive interviews with eight women. The women were 36 to 71 years of age. Six of the women were married and living with their husbands. The women had been at home following discharge from hospital for 2 to 14 weeks. Data collection and data analysis proceeded simultaneously and data collection ceased once consistent themes were identified and validated and the data collected were sufficiently rich and in-depth. Women explain their illness experience with myocardial infarction as a loss phenomenon and the central and dominant loss within the heart attack experience for women is loss of predictability. Women's need for information following myocardial infarction is not met and lack of energy is a prominent feature in everyday life after a heart attack. Traditional sex role socialization sets the stage for potential problems in women's cardiac rehabilitation, especially in relation to support and role enactment. Physical rehabilitation is not a selected strategy to gain control over their loss experience for women with myocardial infarction. The findings and conclusions of this study suggest a number of implications for nursing practice. There is clear direction for family-centered nursing care in the rehabilitation of women with myocardial infarction to address potential problems in relation to support and role enactment. This study reinforces the value of using the concepts of loss and grief to care for patients with myocardial infarction. Also, this study indicates that, in planning nursing care for women with myocardial infarction, nurses should focus on Interventions to increase support, to meet patient and family educational needs, and to help women to anticipate normal physical and psychological responses to myocardial infarction. This study also has specific implications for the development of structured cardiac rehabilitation programmes addressing the special needs of women. In relation to nursing education, nurses must be prepared to assess, teach, and counsel patients with myocardial infarction and their families. Most importantly, this study directs nursing educators to provide course work in women's health issues to sensitize nurses to this field of study and to equip nurses with the understanding necessary to facilitate changes in women's health care. Implications for future research include further exploration of information needs, support, and strategies for control in relation to women with myocardial infarction.
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