OBJECTIVE:To evaluate the meanings of heart disease experience in patients undergoing rehabilitation post-coronary artery bypass grafting surgery. METHODS:Ethnographic study carried out between 2003 and 2005 in the city Goiânia, Central-West Brazil. Direct observation and in-depth interviews were conducted in 11 patients undergoing rehabilitation post- coronary artery bypass grafting surgery. Using an interpretative anthropology approach, data were gathered in narrative documents and analyzed through the identification of units of meanings and thematic groups. RESULTS:Disease-related meanings included heart disease realization, triggered feelings, formulated explanations, surgery acceptance and post-surgery life. Heart disease experience was understood as a biographic rupture, a situation between life and death, disability, loss of autonomy, inability to work. The meanings, analytically constructed, followed a logic that articulated common sense, religion and fragments of medical discourse for the understanding of disease and surgery. CONCLUSIONS: The study results showed that heart disease and surgery experience mark a rupture in the patient's lifestyle, work and their understanding of the health-disease process. The disease experience approach contributes to transcend the limits of a medical model based on disease, its symptoms and causes, and characterized by a biomedical understanding of the health-disease process focused on biological and/or psychological malfunctioning.
Cardiomyopathies; Self care; Psychosocial Impact; Anthropology, Cultural; Qualitative Research