Background and Research Objective: Healthcare providers are expected to provide information and support as myocardial infarction (MI) patients resume normal activities, including sexual relations. The healthcare literature, however, suggests that few providers follow through with the assessment of understanding, provision of appropriate information, and support for patients with MI in resuming their sexual activity. The purpose of the study was to examine trends in sexual concerns of patients with MI and patterns of sexual concerns in early, middle, and later recovery periods.
Sample and Methods: Archival data were analyzed using thematic content analysis. Narrative comments from 3 samples of patients with MI spanning the time periods of 1995 to 2002 (N = 302) were unitized into sentences and phrases. A total of 346 units of analysis were coded using the concept of sexual integrity and examined across time: (a) sexual concerns from 1995 to 2002 and (b) sexual concerns in early, middle, and later recovery after MI.
Findings and Conclusions: Predominant themes included alterations in self-identity, specifically physical and psychological health state. Communication issues involved a lack of sexual information and intimacy concerns. Perception of patients with MI on family concerns, particularly the influence of spouses upon return to sexual activity, was reflected within the comments. Trends in early, middle, and later recovery periods were similar to findings across the 8-year period. All 3 determinants of sexual integrity were represented in the data. Our findings clearly illustrate the need for sexual counseling for patients with MI by healthcare professionals and help to inform providers about content for patient education.