Experiences of Young Adults With Pacemakers and/or Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators

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Abstract

Background:

The number of implanted devices (pacemakers [PMs] and implantable cardioverter defibrillators [ICDs]) is increasing. Because of technological advances, these devices are used in greater numbers in children and adolescents. Challenges of having these devices have been well studied in adults, but little is known about the lived experiences from the perspective of young adults.

Objective:

This study explored the lived experiences, coping behaviors, and challenges of young adults who had cardiac devices implanted during childhood.

Methods:

A descriptive qualitative study design was used. Purposive sampling was used to identify young adults aged 18 to 29 years, living with a PM and/or ICD. Participants were interviewed about their experiences and challenges related to living with a PM or ICD, with common themes identified and analyzed.

Results:

A total of 6 participants were interviewed for this study. The challenges of living with a PM and/or ICD included insecurity about physical appearance, device compliance, physical sensations of the device, future uncertainty, and limited support. The identified coping behaviors utilized by the participants were confrontation, acceptance, educating others, spreading awareness, avoidance, and humor. The overall lived experiences described were appreciation for device benefits, fear of device malfunction, and attracting attention.

Conclusions:

The lived experiences of young recipients often mirror that of older adults; however, it is clear that there are challenges and coping behaviors unique to young adults living with a PM and/or ICD. It is important to educate healthcare providers about the unique challenges that young adults may face so they can provide the appropriate support to this population.

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