Redefining a new normality: a hermeneutic phenomenological study of the experiences of patients with chronic heart failure
Aim To explore the perception of normality in life experienced by patients with chronic heart failure. Design A hermeneutic phenomenological study was conducted. Methods Individual conversational interviews were held with 20 outpatients with chronic heart failure between March 2014-July 2015. Van Manen's phenomenology of practice method was used for data analysis. Results From the analysis, four main themes emerged: (a) Accepting my new situation; (b) Experiencing satisfaction with life; (c) Continuing with my family, social and work roles; and (d) Hiding my illness from others. Conclusions The present study makes a novel contribution to understanding the importance of the perception of normality in the lives of patients with chronic heart failure. It was found that patients need to incorporate this health experience into their lives and reach a 'new normal', thus achieving well-being. Several factors were identified that can help promote this perception in their lives; therefore, nursing interventions should be designed to help develop scenarios encouraging this normalization process. Impact Although the implications of having a sense of normality or experiencing 'normalization' of the illness process in life have been studied in other chronic patient populations, no studies to date have examined how patients with chronic heart failure experience this phenomenon in their lives. For the first time, the results of this research prove that the perception of normality is a key aspect in the experience of living with chronic heart failure.