Life After Myocardial Infarction in Swedish Women and Men Coping, Social Support and Quality of Life Over the First Year
Sammanfattning: Aims: The general aim of this thesis was to describe the life situation of women and men during their first year after myocardial infarction (MI) with regard to problems in daily life, how they coped with them, the social support available and the patients’ perceived quality of life (QoL). An additional aim was to examine differences over time and between women and men in coping, social support and QoL. Methods: A consecutive series of 74 women and 97 men were selected 1 month after MI and followed over the first year. A qualitative approach was used to describe experiences of everyday life of 20 women and 19 men from the study group, from the onset of MI through the first months after the event (retrospectively). Focus was on managing problems and support from the network (I). Also experiences at 4 to 6 months and expectations of the future were explored (II). Coping, social support and QoL were compared between women and men both with a cross-sectional (at 1 month; 74 women and 97 men; III) as well as with a longitudinal design (at 1, 4 and 12 months; 60 women and 88 men; IV). Findings: Physical symptoms and emotional distress were the most commonly described problems during the first months after MI. The patients managed the problems by negotiating with themselves, relying on their own capabilities, changing attitudes and behaviour and taking their own decisions. The network was generally supportive but also communication problems were described (I). Many of the patients had not established a stable health condition after 6 months. They managed the consequences of their disease, found a meaning in what had happened, and confidence in the future. The support from their social network encouraged them to move on (II). Women used more evasive and supportive coping than men 1 month after MI. More women perceived support being available from grandchildren and friends and more men from their partners. Compared with men, women rated lower health-related QoL and QoL (III). Coping and social support were stable over time, women used more evasive coping than men and health-related QoL increased for both women and men. (IV). Conclusions: The first month after MI seems to be a vulnerable period especially for women. They had difficulties interpreting their heart symptoms, did not want to bother others with their worries and rated lower QoL than men. Patients redefined normal life, found hopes for the future and women did not demonstrate a poorer QoL profile than men over time.
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