Patient experiences following cardiothoracic surgery: An interview study

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Journal Article
European Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing, 2005, 4 (3), pp. 242 - 250
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Background: Numerous studies have investigated patient outcomes of cardiac surgery, including some examining health-related quality of life. While these studies have provided some insight into patients' physical function, social abilities and perceived quality of life, studies examining the experiences of individuals recovering from cardiac surgery have received only limited investigation. Aims: This paper presents a thematic analysis of interviews conducted with patients recovering from cardiothoracic surgery, about their memories and experiences of hospital and recovery post-hospital discharge. Methods: Using an exploratory qualitative approach, eight participants were interviewed 6 months following their surgery. Transcripts of interviews were examined using a content analysis approach, with open coding of text and categorising of similar concepts into themes. Findings: Participants reported varying degrees of pain and physical dysfunction during their recovery from surgery and some had still not returned to optimal function. Seven themes emerged from the data: impressions of ICU; comfort/discomfort; being sick/getting better; companionship/isolation; hope/hopelessness; acceptance/apprehension; and life changes. A number of the themes were constructed as a continuum, with participants often demonstrating a range of views or experiences. Many had little or no memory of their stay in the intensive care unit, although others had vivid recollections. Their impressions of hospital were mostly positive, although many experienced fear, apprehension, and mood disturbances at some time during their recovery. Most participants recalled being sick, reaching a turning point, and then getting better. Many participants reported a change in life view since their recovery from surgery. Conclusions: Attention to specific areas of patient orientation, education and support was identified to facilitate realistic expectations of recovery. In addition, some form of systematic follow-up that focuses on patient recovery in terms of both physical and psychological function is important. © 2005 European Society of Cardiology. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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