Background: The first month after discharge for Coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) is particularly challenging for the patients. A larger interview study is warranted to elicit CABG patients' detailed experiences, and give direction for future clinical practice.
Aim: To explore the CABG patients' symptoms and needs in the early rehabilitation phase.
Methods: A qualitative, mixed method design integrating qualitative and quantitative approaches was used. Ninety-three CABG patients aged 39-77, participated in interviews at home after 2 and 4 weeks. The semi-structured interview guide covered: experiences of relief of angina pectoris after surgery, experiences with prescribed discharge medications, psychological experiences: anxiety, depression, sexuality, health professional contact persons, and patient defined experiences.
Results: Two weeks after CABG the patients symptoms and needs were characterised by a substantial amount of uncertainty and worries related to what to expect and what was normal for postoperative pain, assessment and sensation of surgical site, different experiences with physical activity/exercise, uncertainty about medications, difficulties with sleep pattern, irritability, postoperative complications,uncertainty about return to work, and insufficient information at discharge. Four weeks after surgery the patients' symptom level was decreased, and they experienced life beginning to return back to normal. Patency with grafts after CABG, decision to drive a car, impotence (erectile dysfunction), and a missing link to the hospital remained challenges.
Conclusion: CABG patients' experiences indicate a need to extend the hospital's discharge care to the first month after surgery for specific themes to promote rehabilitation outcomes.