Distress in partners of cardiac patients: relationship quality and social support

Nadine Saltmarsh , Barbara M. Murphy, Pauleen C Bennett , Rosemary Olive Higgins , Michelle Macvean, Michael Le Grande , D.R Thompson , Chantal Ski, Marian Worcester , Alun Jackson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


While much research has focused on supporting patients' psychological recovery after an acute cardiac event, relatively little attention has been given to the psychological wellbeing of partners of patients. There are some indications that partners experience higher levels of anxiety and depression than cardiac patients. Previous studies have identified sociodemographic and behavioural predictors of distress in partners. The aim of this study was to investigate whether the quality of the marital relationship and the social support network impact on partner distress in the aftermath of a patient's cardiac event.

A mixed-method approach, including questionnaires and semistructured interviews, was used, with partners interviewed at the time of the event. Partner distress was measured at 12 months post event. Chi-square and t-tests were used to identify factors associated with partner distress, and logistic regression was used to identify unique predictors of partner distress.

One-hundred partners of cardiac patients consecutively admitted to the Royal Melbourne Hospital and the Melbourne Private Hospital over a 12-month period were recruited, with 73 participants retained at 12 months. Poor marital quality at the time of the cardiac event was the only unique predictor of partner distress. Thematic analysis of the qualitative data highlighted the ways marital quality impacts partners.

Quantitative and qualitative findings illustrate the multi-dimensional impact of marital dysfunction on psychological distress in partners. Psycho-education and support for partners of cardiac patients appears warranted.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)397-405
JournalBritish Journal of Cardiac Nursing
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 05 Aug 2016

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Distress in partners of cardiac patients: relationship quality and social support'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this