Depression and Quality of Life Issues in Women Post-MI: A Pilot Study

White, Mary L., and Carla J. Groh


The purpose of this triangulated pilot study was to describe the relationship between depression and quality of life in women following a myocardial infarction (MI) (N=27).


Empirical evidence supports that depression is a common occurrence following MI, and is associated with increased mortality and morbidity, poor physiological adjustment, and poor health outcomes. Although a limited number of studies have examined quality of life post-MI, the majority of these have focused on men. Women are more likely to survive an MI than die, yet little is known about their recovery, especially in relation to depression and quality of life.


A non-random convenience sample of 27 females who had experienced a first MI was enrolled in the study (response rate 81%). Subjects were recruited from 4 major cardiac clinics in the metropolitan Detroit area. Criteria for inclusion were: (1) females over the age of 21; (2) minimum 1 week post-first MI; and (3) English-speaking and able to give informed consent. Those willing to participate were given a survey to be returned to the researcher in a self-addressed stamped envelope. Depression was measured using the Beck’s Depression Inventory (BDI) and quality of life was measured using the Short Form 36 (SF-36). Additionally, 5 women participated in an in-depth qualitative interview about their experiences following their MI. Frequency, descriptive statistics and a Pearson’s r correlation were used to analyze the quantitative data. Qualitative data were analyzed using content analysis.


The mean score on the BDI was 9.4 (SD = 5.5) with a range of 0 to 24. Subjects reported lower scores on 6 of the 8 SF-36 subscales (Role Physical, Vitality, Role Emotional, Physical Functioning, Bodily Pain, and Mental Health) when compared to national norms of healthy women aged 55-64. Depression was significantly correlated with the mental component summary of the SF-36 (r = -0.72, p <.0005), but not the physical component summary.


Nurses who work with women who have suffered an MI need to be aware of the depressive symptoms and quality of life issues that may affect them. Nurses need to educate women after an MI about the expectations of their recovery, with the understanding that some depression may be experienced, and some aspects of the quality of the patients’ lives may be affected. Further longitudinal research is needed to provide options to improve women’s physical and mental outcomes post-MI.