BACKGROUND: The number of coronary angioplasty procedures performed has increased more than tenfold in the past decade. Most research to date has focused on efficacy of the procedure, quality-of-life issues, and measures to promote comfort after percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty. Little or no research has examined the patient's experience during angioplasty. OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to describe the angioplasty experience from the patient's unique perspective. METHOD: Focus-group interviews were used as the qualitative method for data collection. The sample consisted of 45 patients (26 male, 19 female) who had undergone percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty 3 to 18 months before the interviews. Seven focus groups (with four to nine subjects each) were conducted. Each 2-hour interview was tape recorded. Data were analyzed by using a constant comparative method. RESULTS: A wide range of themes emerged from the data. Positive themes included the following: contentment with comfort measures, satisfaction with supportive hospital care, and trust in medical competence. Negative themes included anger over unmet needs for comfort or support, feeling dehumanized, and frustration with lack of control in decision making. CONCLUSIONS: This study uncovered a broad range of experiences among patients undergoing percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty. Although most participants described very positive experiences, many patients expressed bitter dissatisfaction regarding several aspects of their care. Healthcare providers must be aware of these possible reactions so that they can anticipate, recognize, and intervene early and appropriately.

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