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Long-term psychological consequences of symptomatic pulmonary embolism: a qualitative study

Noble, Simon ORCID:, Lewis, Rhian, Whithers, Jodie, Lewis, Sarah and Bennett, Paul 2014. Long-term psychological consequences of symptomatic pulmonary embolism: a qualitative study. BMJ Open 4 (4) , e004561. 10.1136/bmjopen-2013-004561

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Objective: To explore the psychological consequences of experiencing symptomatic pulmonary embolism (PE). Design: Qualitative interview-based study using interpretative phenomenological analysis. Setting: Outpatients who attended an anticoagulation clinic in a district general hospital. Participants: Patients attending an anticoagulation clinic following hospital admission for symptomatic PE were approached to participate. A total of 9 (4 women, 5 men) of 11 patients approached agreed to be interviewed. Participants were aged between 26 and 72 years and had previously experienced a PE between 9 and 60 months (median=26 months, mean=24 months). Intervention: Audiotaped semistructured qualitative interviews were undertaken to explore participants experiences of having a PE and how it had affected their lives since. Data were transcribed and analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis to identify emergent themes. Results: Three major themes with associated subthemes were identified. Participants described having a PE as a life-changing experience comprising initial shock, followed by feeling of loss of self, life-changing decisions and behaviour modification. Features of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) were described with flashbacks, hypervigilance and intrusive thoughts being most prevalent. Participants identified several areas of support needed for such patients including easier access to support through information giving and emotional support. Conclusions: Long-term consequences of venous thromboembolism go beyond the physical alone. Patients describe experiencing symptomatic PE to be a life-changing distressing event leading to behaviour modification and in some PTSD. It is likely that earlier psychological intervention may reduce such long-term sequelae.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
Publisher: BMJ Publishing Group
ISSN: 2044-6055
Date of Acceptance: 5 March 2014
Last Modified: 31 Oct 2022 09:01

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