There is an increasing awareness that patients with acute pulmonary embolism (APE) suffer long-term consequences like fatigue, anxiety, and reduced physical capacity. However, we lack knowledge on how patients manage everyday life and physical activity following an APE. The study aimed to explore how patients experience and cope with daily life and physical activity in the first year following an APE.
Materials and methods
Semi-structured individual interviews were performed with 16 patients, 6-12 months after a first-time APE event. The methodological framework for the analysis was interpretive description.
Most participants had managed to return to their daily routines at the time of the interview, although some struggled more than others. They experienced their daily life and well-being to be negatively affected by fatigue, anxious thoughts and bodily hypervigilance, and were concerned about themselves, their family, friends and life situation. In many cases, they lacked advice from health professionals. Participants used various strategies for re-engaging in everyday life and physical activities, reflecting their physical and mental resources, contextual support, and different life situation. One central theme was the challenge of coming to terms with a more vulnerable identity, and adjusting this identity to established family and work roles.
Most participants had managed to resume their everyday life 6-12 months after the APE event, but were still limited in their daily activities and found it difficult to sustain a sufficient level of physical activity. They described different barriers and facilitators, which should be addressed in future rehabilitation interventions.
Coping strategies; Physical activity; Pulmonary embolism; Qualitative study.