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Life is lived forwards and understood backwards - Experiences of being affected by acute coronary syndrome: A narrative analysis

Journal article
Authors Andreas Fors
Kerstin Dudas
Inger Ekman
Published in International Journal of Nursing Studies
Volume 51
Issue 3
Pages 430-437
ISSN 0020-7489
Publication year 2014
Published at University of Gothenburg Centre for person-centred care (GPCC)
Institute of Health and Care Sciences
Pages 430-437
Language en
Links dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2013....
Keywords Acute coronary syndrome, Patient-centered care, Myocardial infarction, Person-centred care, Phenomenological hermeneutics, Shared decision-making
Subject categories Health Sciences

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Patients affected by acute coronary syndrome (ACS) report several symptoms subsequent to their discharge from hospital. These symptoms prolong their sick leave and complicate their return to the normal activities of everyday life. To improve health outcomes and establish quicker recovery for these patients, there is a need to better understand patients' perceptions of their illness. OBJECTIVE: To explore patients' experiences of ACS during their hospital stay. DESIGN: A qualitative interpretative interview study was conducted among patients during their hospitalization for ACS. SETTING: The study was performed in two designated coronary care units at a hospital in Sweden. PARTICIPANTS: Twelve participants (five women and seven men; age range, 45-72 years), hospitalized with a diagnosis of ACS, were included in this study. METHODS: Patient narratives were recorded and transcribed. The records were later analyzed using a phenomenological hermeneutic approach. RESULTS: Patient experiences of ACS were formulated into one main theme: "awareness that life is lived forwards and understood backwards". Two minor themes predominated in this main theme. The first was a sense of "struggling to manage the acute overwhelming phase", which included four sub-themes: onset of life-threatening symptoms; fear and anxiety; being taken by surprise; and experiencing life as a hazardous adventure. The second theme was "striving to obtain a sense of inner security", which also included four sub-themes: searching for and processing the cause and its explanation; maintaining a personal explanation; dealing with concern and uncertainty; and having a readiness to negotiate with life-pattern activities. CONCLUSIONS: Hospitalized patients affected by ACS consider the cause of the onset and prepare to optimize their future health. These patients construct personal models to explain their disease, which may persist throughout continuum of care. One way to improve health outcomes for patients with ACS is to establish a shared knowledge about the illness and formulate personal care plans that cover the hospital stay as well as possibly extending into primary care after discharge, based on the patients' point of view.

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