The objective of this review was to synthesize the best available qualitative evidence on the everyday life experiences of adults living with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator for cardiovascular disease.
Cardiovascular disease is a rising concern worldwide. The efficacy of the implantable cardioverter defibrillator as a successful treatment for cardiovascular disease has been well documented. Research suggests that living with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator is complex and can cause substantial psychosocial distress that can manifest itself at various intervals over time. The first step to developing evidence-based recommendations related to the management of implantable cardioverter defibrillator–related distress is a critical appraisal and synthesis of relevant literature to gain a more comprehensive understanding of this phenomenon.
The participants of interest were adults 18 years or older who had an implantable cardioverter defibrillator for the management of cardiovascular disease (e.g. ischemic heart disease, angina, cardiomyopathy, myocardial infarction, congenital defect, arrhythmias, heart failure). The phenomenon of interest was the everyday life experience of adults living with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator. The review considered all qualitative research related to the phenomenon of interest.
Key databases searched were PubMed, CINAHL, PsycINFO, Embase, International Bibliography of the Social Sciences, Sociological Abstracts, OpenGrey, MedNar, ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global, Google, and Google Scholar. Published and unpublished papers and articles from 1990 to July 2018 were included in the search. The JBI approach to critical appraisal, study selection, data extraction, and synthesis for qualitative research was used throughout the review.
Twenty-seven papers were included in the review that yielded 143 findings and 13 categories. The methodological quality of the 27 included studies was moderate to strong. Based on ConQual scores, confidence in the synthesized findings was moderate. From this, three synthesized findings were extracted: i) living under the shadow of uncertainty, ii) orchestrating a new normal, and iii) crafting a positive vision for the future.
Evidence suggests that while implantable cardioverter defibrillator recipients do experience psychosocial distress, they gradually positively embrace the device as part of their everyday norm. Recommendations for practice and education point to the further development of best practice guidelines for implantable cardioverter defibrillator management, continuing education programs for health care providers, and strategies to support implantable cardioverter defibrillator recipients and their families to cope with the device. Research that examines onset, level, and duration of implantable cardioverter defibrillator psychosocial distress is needed to target specific interventions reflective of this population's needs. While findings suggest the experiences of women living with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator are similar to men, the low number of women in included studies limits the strength of this conclusion.