All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Barbara Habermann

Advisory Committee Members

Martha Crowther

Carol Dashiff

Marguerite Kinney

Patricia Sawyer

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) School of Nursing


Coronary heart disease, the leading cause of death in Americans today, affects both genders in numerous ethnic populations. This life-threatening event causes both physical and emotional distress for persons with a myocardial infarction (MI), as well as for their spouses or partners and thus possibly forces them on a spiritual journey. The purpose of this study was to increase the understanding of the ways in which spirituality is defined and experienced by both persons with an MI and their spouses/partners during the recovery process. The method utilized in this study was a qualitative approach using interpretative phenomenology from a Heideggerian philosophical perspective. A purposive sample was utilized to include 13 persons with an MI and their spouses/partners. The demographics of these couples varied in representation among age, gender, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. Individual semistructured interviews were conducted with persons with an MI and their spouses/partners simultaneously within 6 weeks of the diagnosis and then 3 months after the diagnosis. The interpretative stages described by N. Diekelmann and P. Ironside (1998) served as a guide in data analysis. The findings revealed that persons with an MI and their spouses/partners defined spirituality within a religious context that was based upon their faith and beliefs, which were expressed through rituals and practices. These rituals and practices comprised the differences in the participants’ experience of spirituality. Participants received hope and support from a variety of sources which allowed them to survive the MI and to iv progress through the recovery process. These participants’ survival caused many of them to search for the meaning and purpose of the event and to believe that life changes were needed. Because these participants were able to make lifestyle changes and adjustments from physical, emotional, and spiritual perspectives, they were able to cope with the MI. By examining the spirituality of both persons with an MI and their spouses/partners, I gained insight into the recovery process from both a spiritual and a dyadic perspective.

Included in

Nursing Commons



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