Myocardial infarction (MI) is a traumatic health event in most patients' lives and their families. Posttraumatic responses to life-threatening events are not necessarily negative rather they may result in positive changes. The negative psychological reactions following myocardial infarction are well documented; however, little attention was paid to the positive effects of the illness. The aim of this study was to explore the perceived positive changes following acute myocardial infarction. This report is part of a larger grounded theory study. Eighteen patients, 4 women and 14 men with first time myocardial infarction ranging in age from 45 - 78 years participated in this study based on purposive and theoretical sampling. Data collection included semi-structured interviews. Strauss and Corbin approach (1998) was chosen for data analysis. The findings show that patients attribute positive meanings to their illness with one or more positive effects. The positive effects of illness following an acute heart attack were categorized as healthy lifestyle, appreciating of life/health, and improved social/interpersonal relationships. Based on the meanings attributed to their illness by the patients, there may be positive changes to enhance better health outcomes. Some implications were discussed.
Key words: Benefit finding, grounded theory, positive effect, posttraumatic growth, myocardial infarction.
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