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Illness attributions and myocardial infarction: the influence of gender and socio-economic circumstances on illness beliefs

Authors

  • Rosemary King BA MA RN RM

    1. Project Officer, Department of Human Services, Ballarat University, Victoria, Australia, and Clinical Nurse Specialist, Women's Health Unit, St John of God Hospital, Ballarat, Victoria, Australia
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Rosemary King, 313 Neil St, Ballarat, Victoria 3350, Australia. E-mail: rosie.king@dhs.vic.gov.au

Abstract

Illness attributions and myocardial infarction: the influence of gender and socio-economic circumstances on illness beliefs

Aim. To present findings from a study conducted between 1996 and 1998 to investigate participants' perceptions of illness causation following a myocardial infarction.

Rationale. The underlying assumption of many practitioners is that perceptions of illness causation will influence emotions and adjustment to illness.

Design. Phenomenology was the research methodology used to examine perceptions of illness causation. A convenience sample was taken of 24 men and women who were admitted to a regional hospital in Victoria, Australia, with a provisional diagnosis of myocardial infarction. Participants were interviewed shortly after hospitalization, and interviews were taped, transcribed and thematically analysed.

Findings. Stress was the most commonly cited cause of illness. Men and women demonstrated distinct differences in illness attribution. Participants who verbalized concerns about their loss of autonomy and their subsequent ability for self-management were predominantly female and uniformly members of the lowest socio-economic group

Conclusion. The article concludes with a discussion of implications of the findings for practice.

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