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Objectives: The aim of the present study was to explore Aboriginal patients’ lived experiences of cardiac care at a major metropolitan hospital in Melbourne. Methods: The study was a qualitative study involving in-depth interviews with a purposive sample of 10 Aboriginal patients who had been treated in the cardiology unit at the study hospital during 2012–13. A phenomenological approach was used to analyse the data. Results: Eight themes emerged from the data, each concerning various aspects of participants’ experiences: ‘dislike of hospitals’, ‘system failures’, ‘engagement with hospital staff’, ‘experiences of racism’, ‘health literacy and information needs’, ‘self-identifying as Aboriginal’, ‘family involvement in care’ and ‘going home and difficulties adapting’. Most participants had positive experiences of the cardiac care, but hospitalisation was often challenging because of a sense of dislocation and disorientation. The stress of hospitalisation was greatly mediated by positive engagements with staff, but at times exacerbated by system failures or negative experiences. Conclusion: Cardiac crises are stressful and hospital stays were particularly disorienting for Aboriginal people dislocated from their home land and community.


Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research

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Journal Article

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