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Keywords:

  • cardiac arrest;
  • gender;
  • hegemonic masculinity;
  • men's health;
  • nursing;
  • qualitative;
  • recovery

Abstract

Aim

To explore how masculinities shape the experiences of men and their partners after survival from out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.

Background

Survivors of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest report depression, dependence on others for daily functioning, decreased participation in society and significant decreases in quality of life. There is growing evidence that masculine gender identities play a central role in the recovery experiences of men and their families following other major cardiac events. However, to date, there has been no examination of how masculinities shape men's experiences of recovery following out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.

Design

Interview study guided by an interpretive description approach. Data were subjected to thematic analysis.

Method

A purposive sample of seven male sudden cardiac arrest survivors and 6 female partners was recruited in 2010 from a secondary care centre in British Columbia, Canada.

Results

Three themes were prominent in the experiences of the participants: (1) Support and self-reliance; (2) Dealing with emotional (in) vulnerability; and (3) No longer a ‘He-man’.

Conclusion

Masculinities played a role in men's experiences of recovery and adaptation following out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. Hegemonic masculinity partly explained men's experiences, notably their reluctance to seek professional support and reactions to changes in lifestyle. However, the study also suggests that the popular stereotype of men being ‘strong and silent’ in the face of ill-health may only be a part of a more complex story. Nurses would benefit from taking into consideration the potential influence of male gender identities on men's recovery postcardiac arrest.