Coronary heart disease: causes and drug treatment--spouses' conceptions

J Clin Nurs. 2004 Feb;13(2):167-76. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2702.2003.00871.x.


Background: Spouses are important in the rehabilitation process of their partner after coronary heart disease event. Their knowledge and attitudes have an impact on their support to the partner concerning lifestyle changes and drug treatment after an event.

Aims and objectives: To explore spouses' conceptions concerning causes of coronary heart disease and drug treatment 1 year after the partner's cardiac event.

Design: Qualitative with an empirical and inductive approach.

Methods: Semi-structured interviews with strategically selected spouses (17 women and eight men) were taped. The transcripts were analysed within the phenomenographic framework.

Results: Spouses' conceptions about causes of coronary heart disease and its treatment consisted of correct facts, as judged on a lay level, less elaborated conceptions and misconceptions. Among causes of coronary heart disease, the spouses were most knowledgeable about fat intake. They knew less about contributions from inactivity, stress and smoking. Ambivalent feelings were expressed about benefits vs. side effects of drugs. The treatment was conceived as necessary for the heart, but harmful for other organs. Men and women were evenly distributed in most of the derived categories. More women than men considered stress as a cause of coronary heart disease and also misconceived physical exercise to cause the disease.

Conclusion: A variation of spouses' conceptions was revealed about causes of coronary heart disease and drug treatment. There was a lack of understanding concerning important parts of cardiac rehabilitation activities. These misconceptions may have implications by influencing their partner's co-operative behaviour.

Relevance to clinical practice: Spouses' pre-existing conceptions of coronary heart disease and its treatment should be considered in the rehabilitation process of their partner. Couples with misconceptions should be given the opportunity to increase qualitatively their knowledge starting from their point of view rather than from that of the professional perspective.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Causality
  • Conflict, Psychological
  • Coronary Disease / drug therapy*
  • Coronary Disease / etiology*
  • Coronary Disease / rehabilitation
  • Dietary Fats / adverse effects
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Patient Selection
  • Qualitative Research
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Social Support
  • Spouses / education
  • Spouses / psychology*
  • Stress, Psychological / complications
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Sweden


  • Dietary Fats