Date of Award

Spring 1993

Degree Type

Thesis - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Shaw, Christine R.

Second Advisor

Fitzgerald Miller, Judith

Third Advisor

Stollenwerk, Ruth M.


Elderly spouses in this phenomenological study described the experience and needs of having one's mate hospitalized in the intensive care unit with the diagnosis of a myocardial infarction. The purposive sample consisted of ten spouses. Every spouse described their experience using surreal metaphors, because the experience was so frightening. Also, every elderly spouse was eager to discuss their experience. Thematic content analysis of the transcribed audiotaped interviews revealed consistent needs among the elderly spouses: to be informed; to see with my own eyes; to care about me too; competent caregivers; to play valued roles; and to maintain hope. Implications for nursing include the need for: hospital staff education regarding counseling and communication skills; re-evaluation of visiting policies; collaborative evaluation by the patient, the patient's spouse, and the nurse regarding phone access; continued face-to-face follow-up with elderly spouses of patients admitted to the intensive care unit with a myocardial infarction; the development of strategies to make the hospital environment more family centered; skill development among hospital staff in assessing and intervening to meet elderly spouses' needs; and the implementation and evaluation of interventions that encourage elderly spouses to actively participate in the mate's care.



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