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  1. Cusveller, B. PhD
  2. Janssen-Niemeijer, L. MScN
  3. Leget, C. PhD
  4. Visse, M. PhD


This study aims at exploring the perspectives of patients with cardiovascular disease (CVD) on the existential meaning of lifestyle change as an evidence base for spiritual care by nurses and other health professionals. This study has been carried out within the paradigm of phenomenological caring sciences. The sample of 18 participants was purposively selected. Data consisted of in-depth interviews among adults with an episode of CVD. Data analysis of transcribed audio recordings was done using the method of Reflective Lifeworld Approach. For patients with CVD, changing one's lifestyle is an experience of transition in self-image. This transition has a twofold dynamic. On the one hand, it entails alternating phases in what is meaningful for the patient: letting go (loss of the normal, of health, of bodily functions) and holding on (desire to be healthy and to be normal). On the other hand, through the vulnerability and loneliness patients often experience, patients report a need to be encouraged by and connected to others/the Other. Making brave choices and connecting to the patients' spiritual resources of inner strength are crucial for successful lifestyle changes and meaningful transition to a new lifestyle. Lifestyle change is not only a physical and psychological process for the patient with CVD but also an existential transition that involves fundamental views and values of being human. It is an experience that is in part socially influenced, that is, by encouragement from meaningful others. For the health care worker, knowledge of this experience may help provide spiritual care after CVD.