The "kaleidoscope" experience for elderly women living with coronary artery disease

Can J Cardiovasc Nurs. 1998;9(3):11-23.


In recent years, there has been a rapid increase in the number of elderly women, over the age of 60 years, who experience manifestations of coronary artery disease (CAD) such as angina and myocardial infarction (MI). While quantitative research has indicated some significant findings concerning the risk factors and symptoms of CAD in men and women within hospital settings, the majority of studies have had under representative samples of elderly women. Little research has been conducted regarding the complex relationships that exist between the contexts, contingencies and conditions that influence the meaning that elderly women attach to cardiac illness. This qualitative study, which used a grounded theory approach, provides a theoretical analysis of the meaning that elderly women with CAD attach to their illness, home convalescence and social support needs. Eight women, between the ages of 61 and 87 years, who experienced acute exacerbations of CAD, were interviewed in their homes during the early home convalescence period (2 weeks and 4 weeks post discharge). In the theoretical analysis, finding a voice, the core variable, represents the basic social process employed by these elderly women during hospitalization and the early home convalescence period. Struggling for a new self is the transcending process that influences all aspects and interactions of this social process. The major supporting interlinkages of the transcending process include living with loss, conforming to tradition, striving for respect and blending the gaps. These women blended all of these transcending processes to find a voice that reflected their unique perceptions, past experiences, coping strategies and personal identity. This paper will discuss the salient issues arising from the literature on elderly women and heart disease, the theoretical analysis of the meaning these women attach to their illness, home convalescence and social support needs, and implications for future research, practice and educational pursuits.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Convalescence / psychology
  • Coronary Disease / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Needs Assessment
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Social Support
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Women's Health*