Lived experiences and their meanings for couples in which one partner has undergone a heart event: A phenomenological study
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The purpose of this qualitative research study was to discover the lived experiences and their meanings for couples in which one partner had a first heart event between six weeks and two years prior to the interviews in which data was gathered. A couple is representative of the simplest whole interactive unit of a family on which the effects of a heart event act. A heart event was delimited to myocardial infarction, coronary artery bypass graft surgery, percutaneous transluminal coronary angiography procedures, and cardiac valve surgeries. Applying a phenomenological and family systems theoretical framework, this researcher interviewed 11 couples. All couples lived in the Texas counties of Collin, Dallas, Denton, and Tarrant. The researcher held one interview with each couple who were presented with a semi-structured, open-ended request and two semi-structured, open-ended questions. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim and analyzed. Resulting themes were The Breaking News, Hospitalization, Recovery, and Reflection. Sub-themes within each of the themes were What we thought, How we felt, What we sensed, and How we behaved. Permeating factors of Context and Meaning were evident throughout participants' narratives. Implications from the discussion of the results are used to make recommendations for Family Therapists and other health care professionals who provide care for like couples with a history of heart events. Results add to the body of information from similar studies. Recommendations for further study are suggested.