The Well-Being of Relatives of Patients with Atrial Fibrillation: A Critical Incident Technique Analysis

The Open Nursing Journal 19 Nov 2014 RESEARCH ARTICLE DOI: 10.2174/1874434601408010048



The well-being of relatives of patients having chronic heart diseases (CHD) has been found to be negatively affected by the patient’s condition. Studies examining relatives of patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) indicate that their well-being may be affected in a similar manner, but further research is needed.


To explore and describe critical incidents in which relatives of patients experience how AF affects their well-being and what actions they take to handle these situations. Design and method: An explorative, descriptive design based on the critical incident technique (CIT) was used. Interviews were conducted with 19 relatives (14 women and five men) of patients hospitalised in southern Sweden due to acute symptoms of the AF.


The well-being of relatives was found to be affected by their worries (patient-related health), as well as the sacri-ficing of their own needs (self-related health). In handling their own well-being, these relatives adjusted to and supported the patient (practical involvement), along with adjusting their own feelings and responding to the mood of the patients (emotional involvement).


The well-being of relatives of patients with AF was affected depending on the patients’ well-being. In their attempt to handle their own well-being, the relatives adjusted to and supported the patients. Further research is needed in order to evaluate the effects of support to relatives and patients respectively and together.

Keywords: Atrial fibrillation, coronary heart disease, health, nursing, qualitative analysis, relatives.
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