Perceptions and experiences of heart disease: A literature review and identification of a research agenda in older women

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Journal Article
European Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing, 2003, 2 (4), pp. 255 - 264
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Background: Following diagnosis of heart disease women have poorer health related outcomes compared with men. Nursing science lacks well-evaluated interventions to address the specific rehabilitative needs of older women with heart disease. AIMS: This paper seeks to inform the development of nursing intervention studies by a review of published studies on the experiences and rehabilitative needs of older women with heart disease. Methods: The CINAHL, MEDLINE, FAMILY and PsychINFO databases were searched, identifying literature published from 1982 and written in English. Keywords used were women, old* (old, older) women, elderly women and: heart disease, heart failure, cardiac and rehabilitation. Hand searching of nursing and medical textbooks also occurred. These searches resulted in over 120 articles that met the criteria of describing experiences, perceptions, psychological responses and support rehabilitative needs of older women. Results: Older women present with symptoms that are different from those derived from a male-dominated research agenda and further there is a paucity of data related to evaluation of interventions tailored to the needs of women. Key themes emerging from the literature review include not only that older women compared with men have a poorer prognosis and experience greater disability moreover they: (1) are at a higher risk of psychosocial distress; (2) have a greater need for instrumental support and social support; (3) have an altered perception of risk; and (4) demonstrate the need for specific rehabilitation programs, tailored to their needs. Conclusion: Future research should develop and evaluate intervention studies that better meet the unique needs of older women with heart disease. Particular emphasis needs to be on psychosocial aspects, given evidence that identify these are major concerns for women. © 2003 European Society of Cardiology. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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