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4 themes described the sexual concerns and educational needs of patients with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator

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Q What are the experiences of patients and partners regarding return to sexual activity after implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) insertion?


A qualitative descriptive study.


Wichita and Topeka, Kansas, USA.


12 patients (10 men and 2 women) (age range 20–83 y) with ICDs and 4 partners (1 man and 3 women) (age range 22–76 y). All but 1 patient reported being sexually active; this patient ceased all sexual activity after an episode of ICD discharge during sexual activity.


Data were collected using semistructured interviews, which were recorded, transcribed verbatim, and analysed using a qualitative descriptive approach.


(1) Anxiety and apprehension regarding sexual activity. Most patients and partners expressed concerns about resuming sex after ICD implantation. 9 of 12 patients expressed sexual concerns. They were apprehensive about what might set off the ICD and feared that the ICD would fire with each sexual encounter. Some patients described this as an initial concern, whereas for others, it was an ongoing concern. All 4 partner interviews reflected considerable worry and anxiety about the effect of the ICD on the patient. Partners reported being watchful of patients, particularly with …

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  • For correspondence: Dr E E Steinke, School of Nursing, Wichita State University, Wichita, KS, USA. Elaine.Steinke{at}

  • Source of funding: Epsilon Gamma Chapter-at-Large Sigma Theta Tau International.