Myocardial infarction, spouses’ reactions and their need of support
The purpose of this study was to investigate the impact of myocardial infarction (MI) on survivor’s spouses in terms of fears and symptoms during the patient’s recovery period. In addition the researchers sought to evaluate the influence of the support by the health care professionals on spouses’ adjustment. A total of 57 Finnish spouses participated in the study. Of the spouses 47 were female and 10 were male. Data were collected using a structured questionnaire distributed to the spouses at a rehabilitation session at 2 weeks–4 months after the MI. Topics covered included fears, emotional and physical symptoms and the spouses’ experience of the sufficiency of the support that they had received from health care professionals during the patient’s recovery. Data were analysed using quantitative methods including descriptive statistics and multivariate methods. Fears and symptoms were classified using factor analyses. For fears two factors emerged which were named: disease-related fears and personal fears. In respect of symptoms experienced by the spouse three factors emerged: one which describes emotional distress, one which describes dysfunction and one describing spouses’ own vulnerability. The significantly most intensively experienced fears by the spouses were the disease-related fears followed by the personal fears. The most frequently reported symptom was dysfunction followed by emotional distress and vulnerability. In regression analysis emotional distress was predicted by personal fears, support from the health care professionals, the shock reaction, spouse’s own health and time after MI. Dysfunction was predicted by spouse’s own health and personal fears whereas vulnerability was predicted by spouse’s own health and support from the health care professionals. Study findings show that in the planning of the care of patients with MI it is important to attend to the reactions and needs of spouses. Their resources are required for optimal rehabilitation of the patient.