Background and objectives. The implantation of defibrillators should not be studied simply on the basis of clinical improvement or quality of life: it is also important to understand the significance, which the recipients attach to the defibrillator and their experiences with it. The aim of this work was, therefore, to determine the experience of Spanish implantable defibrillator recipients.
Design. A qualitative phenomenological study.
Methods. Purposeful sampling of male implantable defibrillator recipients older than 18 years of age attended at the defibrillator consultancy at the Hospital Fuenlabrada or belonging to the Heart Patients’ Association (Asociación de Pacientes Coronarios, APACOR). A secondary, theoretical sampling was also carried out to gain a more in-depth understanding of certain aspects identified in the first sampling, such as living with the discharges and difficulties during sexual activity. Data were collected using unstructured and semi-structured questionnaires and applying a question guide, field notes and the recipients’ personal diaries/letters. Data collection was terminated once theoretical saturation was reached. Data were analysed using the Giorgi method. Finally, the seven themes, which showed what it means to be an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator recipient, were described.
Results. The defibrillator is perceived positively and is considered to be a form of life insurance, whereas the discharges are a limiting factor. The recipient’s outlook on life changes. Acceptance of the changes resulting from the implant leads to the development of strategies to facilitate everyday life.
Conclusions. An understanding of the significance attached by recipients to their disease, diagnosis and treatment allows their behaviour and expectations to be understood.
Relevance to clinical practice. Provide the basis for nursing assessment after discharge, understand the effects of the device in the recipient and track the process of adapting the recipient to daily life.