Projektleder Nina Rottmann

Sources of Meaning in life with heart disease. Development and evaluation of an intervention for cardiac rehabilitation.

Background and purpose: A diagnosis of a heart disease can be a life-changing experience. It may bring about existential concerns, including questions related to meaning in life. A lack of meaning in life is associated with increased emotional distress and decreased quality of life. Health professionals recognize that issues related to personal meaning in life are relevant, but rarely address these aspects systematically in cardiac rehabilitation. This may be due to a lack of necessary tools.
The project will develop and evaluate a novel, brief, structured intervention that aims to strengthen the experience of meaningfulness and reduce or prevent emotional distress by addressing personal sources of meaning in life among patients attending cardiac rehabilitation and their relatives in Denmark.
The intervention will be based on the Sources of Meaning Card Method (, a method to map and explore personal sources of meaning. It is based on 26 cards each stating one potential source of meaning. We will develop and evaluate three intervention formats for:
(a) individual patients in cardiac rehabilitation
(b) the patient and a relative
(c) groups of patients meeting several times.

Methods: The three formats will be developed using a user-centered design. Six patients attending cardiac rehabilitation, six relatives and six rehabilitation professionals will participate in workshops.
The feasibility of the three formats will be examined in municipal rehabilitation. We will explore (a) participants’ and intervention facilitators’ experience with and acceptability of the formats; and (b) changes in meaningfulness and emotional distress among participants in a pre-post design. We aim at including 60 patients and 20 relatives. We examine (c) acceptability and practicality of the three formats among cardiac rehabilitation professionals.

Perspectives: The intervention can provide an important tool to address personal meaning in life in municipal cardiac rehabilitation. If the results are positive, we will develop teaching materials for rehabilitation professionals. Due to its practice-based development the intervention would have strong potential for implementation at a relatively low cost and can potentially benefit large groups of cardiac patients and relatives.