Objective: As early recovery is a challenging period for cardiac patients who frequently have 'unmet' health information needs, the objective of this study was to explore the information needs of patients treated with primary angioplasty for heart attack.
Methods: Qualitative methodology using semi-structured interviews with 29 patients recruited from a specialist English Cardiology centre, 3-12 days after discharge from hospital. Framework analysis techniques were used to synthesise findings.
Results: Participants were generally satisfied with the way in which health information was provided. The need for more specific information about the risk of recurrence, the level of heart muscle damage, discharge medications, appropriate levels of physical activity and diet was highlighted. There was no clear preference for informant and preferences for the timing of information delivery varied considerably.
Conclusion: Health information provision was satisfactory for most but could be improved by the closer matching of patients' preferences with provision. The shortened hospital stay, rapid throughput and emotional shock experienced by patients influenced their ability to absorb information making the optimum timing for health information delivery variable.
Practice implications: Current guidelines about the provision of health information for patients recovering from heart attack may need to be reviewed to reflect the recent technological advances in treatment. One approach may be to better 'stage' information to reflect patients' priorities. Home visits by specialist nurses may need to be scheduled earlier to improve continuity of care and address information 'gaps'.