Date of Award


Degree Name

PhD Nursing

Dissertation Committee

Patricia A. Roth, EdD, RN; Jane M. Georges, PhD, RN; Mary Rose Mueller, PhD, RN


caregivers, Coronary Heart Disease, Feminist Hermeneutic, Lived experience, marriage, nursing


The purpose of this feminist hermeneutic study was to discover the meaning of living in the community with a husband who has coronary heart disease (CHD). Ten women, aged 47-74 who were married from 4 to 55 years, participated in unstructured face to face interviews. The women were interviewed 6 to 18 months after their husbands were diagnosed with medically or surgically treated CHD. Audio recorded transcribed interview data were analyzed to identify the essential themes and sub-themes. Texts were interpreted guided by hermeneutic phenomenology (Gadamer 1960/1989; 1976) and van Manen's (1990) research activities. A feminist lens was applied to the texts throughout the analysis and interpretation. Methodological rigor was achieved through the assessment of trustworthiness adapted from the work of Guba and Lincoln (1989). The thematic analysis uncovered the following essential themes: (a) “walking on a tightrope;” (b) “keeping an eye on him;” (c) “wrapping him in cotton;” (d) “right in the middle of it;” and (e) “I have to get through it.” The first three themes, “walking on a tightrope,” “keeping an eye on him,” and “wrapping him in cotton” revealed the wives' focus on their husbands. The women feared that their husbands were vulnerable and assumed responsibility for protecting them from harm. The further essential theme emerged, “right in the middle of it,” reflecting the wives sharing or ownership of their husbands' CHD. The wives shared the illness experience with their husbands and their own lives became overshadowed by CHD. Another essential theme, “I have to get through it,” revealed the women's personal meaning of their husbands' CHD. The unveiling of the narratives uncovered women's lives of silence and the conversations not held. The women searched for the meaning of the experience and examined a life in the future without their husbands. The women's lives revealed moments of suffering as they struggled with the uncertain and sudden threatening nature of CHD in their lives. The findings of the study provide an understanding of the experience of women living with a husband with CHD and suggest the need for further research and have implications for nursing praxis.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access



Included in

Nursing Commons