You can do it if you set your mind to it: a qualitative study of patients with coronary artery disease

J Adv Nurs. 2001 Dec;36(6):733-41. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2648.2001.02040.x.


Aims of the study: To gain increased knowledge and understanding of what it means to be afflicted with coronary artery disease (CAD) and how it affects the life/lifestyle of the individual.

Background: Research has documented that education, counselling and behavioural interventions are important elements of cardiac rehabilitation and compliance with treatment. Compliance is generally better with medical treatment than with recommended lifestyle changes. Another influencing aspect is locus of control, i.e. people's own understanding of control is the foundation for the decisions patients make more or less consciously regarding compliance with caring/nursing, treatment and lifestyle changes.

Methods: Eight individuals with diagnosed coronary artery disease were interviewed about their life situation, and the opportunities and obstacles they encountered in making lifestyle changes. These interviews were transcribed and then analysed using a hermeneutic approach.

Findings: The findings included three areas: (1) The causes of coronary artery disease describing different factors, such as heredity, lifestyle and demands. (2) Difficulties in the work of rehabilitation, which was explained in terms of informants' feelings of confusion, uncertainty and sadness. (3) Successful rehabilitation consisted of two factors: the personality of the individual patient and external support.

Conclusions: Patients may comply well with follow-up visits but less with lifestyle changes. By identifying different 'characteristics', 'prerequisites' and 'difficulties' that describe patients' compliance, it should be possible to make treatment more individual. Nurses have a significant role in supporting these patients since they are more accessible than physicians. Nurses also have a responsibility to work together with patients to empower them, in order to make their lifestyle changes and self-care activities manageable.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Coronary Artery Disease / etiology
  • Coronary Artery Disease / nursing
  • Coronary Artery Disease / psychology*
  • Coronary Artery Disease / rehabilitation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Life Change Events*
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Compliance
  • Quality of Life
  • Risk Factors
  • Stress, Psychological