What is it like to survive near-death? An interpretative phenomenological study of the experience of surviving sudden cardiac arrest

Thesis


D’Aloia, T. 2017. What is it like to survive near-death? An interpretative phenomenological study of the experience of surviving sudden cardiac arrest. Thesis Middlesex University / New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling (NSPC) Psychology
TitleWhat is it like to survive near-death? An interpretative phenomenological study of the experience of surviving sudden cardiac arrest
AuthorsD’Aloia, T.
Abstract

This dissertation explores outlook and emotional well-being in cardiac arrest survivors at least 2 years after the event. Ten participants were interviewed, using semi-structured interviews focusing on emotional and psychological well-being, and the material was analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Three superordinate themes were identified. The first highlighted psychological dissonance in the wake of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA); the immediate impact of surviving and awakening to hear that they had suffered SCA was sudden, unexpected and confusing. The second was existential loss, relating to what SCA represented during this transitional and assimilative period. Finally, the third was ‘living in the here and now,’ which characterized their post-transformative journey and view of life as meaning emerged.
Existing literature on the psychological and psychosocial effects of SCA on survivors was examined to shed light on the results. Existential themes of death, loss, and finitude, as well as an ontological awakening of conscious, meaningful and appreciative living, also proved useful. The clinical significance of the study included a recommendation to build awareness of the difficulty of emotional adjustment and increased availability of counselling and mental health support. The study also recommends a focus on peer support and ensuring that counsellors are familiar with or have experience of how this phenomenon affects many areas of life. The choice of IPA as a method is deemed a useful one, as its clear guidelines together with a solid methodological grounding informed both the quality of the interviews and depth of analysis. Further qualitative research is suggested on this prevailing area, using varied methodologies.

LanguageEnglish
Department namePsychology
Institution nameMiddlesex University / New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling (NSPC)
Publication dates
Print13 Jun 2017
Publication process dates
Deposited13 Jun 2017
Accepted02 Jun 2017
Output statusPublished
Accepted author manuscript
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