A left ventricular assist device (LVAD) is a mechanical device that treats advanced heart failure. Patients coping with an LVAD need extensive instrumental and medical support, which is usually provided by the spouse. Therefore, it seems that dyadic coping strategies play a crucial role as either mitigators or hinderers of couples’ illness management in the context of LVADs. The aim of this research was to formulate a typology of dyadic coping strategies applied by these couples, as unfolded in their mutual and individual subjective experiences. The research was performed in collaboration with an LVAD implantation unit at a medium-sized hospital in Israel. Couples (N = 17) participated in an in-depth dyadic interview using a semi-structured interview guide, and the data collected were analyzed using content analysis. Our findings suggest that couples coping with an LVAD develop strategies for handling fear, processing and accepting their illness narratives, adjusting their level of independence and intimacy, and utilizing humor. Moreover, our analysis showed that each couple utilized a unique mix of dyadic coping strategies. To the best of our knowledge, the current study is the first to explore the dyadic coping strategies of couples coping with an LVAD. Our results may constitute a base for developing dyadic intervention programs and clinical recommendations to improve the quality of life and relationships of patients and their spouses while coping with LVAD implementation.
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- Chronic illness
- Dyadic coping
- Dyadic interview
- Left ventricular assist device
- Psychological issues