Real-life experiences of people with transient ischaemic attack or minor stroke: A qualitative literature review

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Journal Article
Journal of Clinical Nursing, 2018, 27 (7-8), pp. 1381 - 1398
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© 2018 John Wiley & Sons Ltd Aims and objectives: To explore and present findings of qualitative studies exploring real-life experiences of people with transient ischaemic attack or minor stroke. Background: Transient ischaemic attack and minor stroke significantly increase the risk of stroke. Primarily, literature has examined healthcare pathways, patient outcomes and models of care through quantitative methodologies. Several studies have explored patient experiences using qualitative approaches. However, these findings have not been systematically collated or critically appraised to better understand the experiences of this population. Design: A literature review of the qualitative evidence. Method: A systematic literature search was conducted in CINAHL, MEDLINE, EMBASE and PsycINFO between January 2005–October 2016 to identify qualitative studies that explored real-life experiences of people with transient ischaemic attack or minor stroke. The relevant EQUATOR guidelines were followed. Findings of relevant studies were critically appraised and collated using a thematic approach. Results: The search retrieved 709 articles. Twelve articles were included after critical review. Three themes emerged including recognition, awareness and action; the vulnerable self; and social and personal life change. Participants experienced ongoing vulnerability and change in their personal and social lives. Specifically, people believed that their condition did not reflect their physical appearance and led to their needs being unmet by health professionals. Conclusions: This is the first review of the literature to collate the thoughts, perspectives and experiences of people living with transient ischaemic attack or minor stroke. They reveal a complex, life-altering experience characterised by vulnerability, instability and change. Education that assists clinicians to connect with these experiences may alleviate the patient-reported disconnection with health professionals. Relevance to clinical practice: Physical and psychosocial dysfunctions were consistently reported to be overlooked or undetected by clinicians. Educating clinicians might enable them to better understand patient experiences, improve therapeutic interactions and meet the needs of this population.
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