Biographical restorying following a heart attack

  • Eileen Carver

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    Coronary heart disease remains a leading cause of chronic illness in the world.
    Addressing lifestyle risk factors through health-related behaviour change is a key
    component of managing this condition. There is a lack of understanding from the
    patient’s perspective, of the ways in which information is used to support healthrelated
    behaviour change. This study sought an increased understanding of the
    social processes and interactions influencing individual health-related behaviour
    change after a heart attack.
    A constructivist grounded theory approach was used and narrative inquiry
    informed the development of the theory of biographical restorying following a heart
    attack. A symbolic interactionist framework facilitated an increased understanding
    of how the life story of those who had experienced a heart attack were shaped
    through interaction with their social world. Twenty-five semi-structured interviews
    were conducted with 14 individuals. The interviews took place at approximately 3
    weeks and 6 months after their heart attack.
    The theory of biographical restorying proposed four different narratives of life after
    a heart attack. Individuals told of lives that were either continuing as before or a
    struggle, limited or enhanced in response to the physical sensations they had
    experienced during their illness episode. The cycle of acting and reflecting on
    those sensations informed, adapted and reinforced both illness beliefs and health
    related concepts.
    Medical practitioners were the most valued source of knowledge for those who
    experienced a heart attack. However, illness perceptions interpreted by those who
    had experienced a heart attack were different to those of medical personnel.
    Participants of this study increased their lay-knowledge to create a narrative
    around the causes, consequences and controllability of their condition. The
    internet was not widely accessed for health-related information by this group.
    The theory offers insights into the timing of interventions designed to support the
    adaptation of specific illness beliefs and an approach to cardiac rehabilitation that
    is better to suited to the needs of an individual.
    Date of AwardNov 2017
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Brighton
    SupervisorJulie Scholes (Supervisor)

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