Surviving Sudden Cardiac Arrest: A Pilot Qualitative Survey Study of Survivors

Academic Article


  • Research describing survivors of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) has centered on quantifying functional ability, perceived quality of life, and neurocognitive assessment. Many gaps remain, however, regarding survivors' psychosocial perceptions of life in the aftermath of cardiac arrest. An important influence upon those perceptions is the presence of support and its role in a survivor's life. An Internet-based pilot survey study was conducted to gather data from SCA survivors and friends and/or family members (FFMs) representing their support system. The survey was distributed to members of the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation (SCAF) via the Internet by SCAF leadership. Questions included both discrete multiple-choice and open-ended formats. Inductive thematic analyses were completed by three independent researchers trained in qualitative research methodology to identify primary themes consistent among study participants until thematic saturation was achieved. No statistical inferences were made. A total of 205 surveys were returned over the 5-month study period (July to November 2013); nine were received blank, leaving 196 surveys available for review. Major themes identified for survivors (N = 157) include the significance of and desire to share experiences with others; subculture identification (unique experience from those suffering a heart attack); and the need to seek a new normal, both personally and inter-personally. Major themes identified for FFMs (N = 39) include recognition of loved one's memory loss; a lack of information at discharge, including expectations after discharge; and concern for the patient experiencing another cardiac arrest. This pilot, qualitative survey study suggests several common themes important to survivors, and FFMs, of cardiac arrest. These themes may serve as a basis for future patient-centered focus groups and the development of patient-centered guidelines for patients and support persons of those surviving cardiac arrest.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Sawyer KN; Brown F; Christensen R; Damino C; Newman MM; Kurz MC
  • Start Page

  • 76
  • End Page

  • 84
  • Volume

  • 6
  • Issue

  • 2