Older Rural Women Moving Up and Moving On in Cardiac Rehabilitation


  • Elizabeth N Austin Towson University




Purpose: Cardiac disease often strikes without warning. Its sudden nature interrupts the lives of individuals and families. Recovery from cardiac events may take months or even years. Cardiac rehabilitation (CR) is an essential step in the recovery process. CR improves physical fitness and provides education for the reduction of risk factors for future cardiac events. Women are known to be under-referred to cardiac rehabilitation. Women are also under-represented in CR research, are less likely to attend CR than men, and may have worse outcomes than men. Little is known about the experiences of older rural women in CR. The purpose of this study was to describe and interpret the experiences of older women who lived in rural communities and attended CR.

Sample: A purposive sample of 10 women (ages 60-83) was recruited from three CR centers in Pennsylvania and New York. All women were residents of rural communities and had been discharged from CR.

Method: Participants were enrolled in a phenomenological study to identify the meaning of CR for older rural women. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using van Manen’s methodology.

Findings: Three themes emerged from the study: (a) companionship, (b) hospitality, and (c) accomplishment.

Conclusions: The women described CR as a program offering companionship in an atmosphere of hospitality to assist women in accomplishing their personal goals. The study has implications for nursing practice, education, policy, and theory development in rural nursing.

Key Words: older rural women, cardiac rehabilitation, phenomenology, companionship, hospitality, accomplishment

Author Biography

Elizabeth N Austin, Towson University

PhD, MA, RN, CNE, CEN, Assistant Professor, Department of Nursing

Dr. Austin is an Assistant Pofessor in the Department of Nursing at Towson University. She also serve as a faculty member in the Integrated Homeland Security Masters program at Towson University.