Perceived stress and coping strategies among families of cardiac transplant candidates during the organ waiting period

M. T. Nolan, S. A. Cupples, M. M. Brown, L. Pierce, D. Lepley, L. Ohler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Objective: To explore and describe perceived stress and coping strategies among families of candidates for cardiac transplant during the organ waiting period. Design: This descriptive, multiinstitutional study was guided by the T-Double ABCX Model of Family Adjustment and Adaptation (McCubbin and Thompson, 1987). Setting: Five tertiary care centers with transplant programs in three Southeastern cities. Subjects: Thirty-eight family members of patients on the active list for cardiac transplantation, including 35 women and three men with a mean age of 44 years (SD = 13.17). Subjects had a family member on the waiting list for a mean of 6.5 months. Instruments: Family members completed the following three instruments: (1) Family Inventory of Life Events and Changes (FILE), (2) Family Crisis Oriented Personal Scale (FCOPES), and (3) Family Perception of the Transplant Experience Scale (FPTES). Results: Stress: 53% and 47% of respondents indicated that they were experiencing moderate and low degrees of stress, respectively. Coping: Family members used more coping mechanisms than normative subjects in the literature. Coping strategies used in order of decreasing frequency: (1) knowing our family has the strength to solve our problems, (2) facing problems head-on, and (3) seeking support from friends. Appraisal: Mean score of 32.13 reflects subjects' positive perception of the pretransplant experience. The three statements with which the subjects most strongly agreed: (1) heart illness has changed roles of family members, (2) family member will survive the transplant operation; and (3) this is an experience that could bring out the family's strengths. Conclusions: An increase in the number of coping strategies used with low to moderate stress levels suggests the effectiveness of coping strategies in mediating stress. The preference for active rather than passive coping strategies may be reflective of the selection criteria for transplant candidates or nursing interventions during this period to minimize stress and promote family coping.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)540-547
Number of pages8
JournalHeart and Lung: Journal of Critical Care
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Perceived stress and coping strategies among families of cardiac transplant candidates during the organ waiting period'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this