Background: Patients with unexplained chest pain have seldom organic pathology. Although both physical and psychological factors have been studied and suggested as causes of chest pain. Aim: The aim was to describe the experience of unexplained chest pain and its influence on daily life situation in men and women. Methods: Nine women and eleven men with unexplained chest pain, aged 31-62 years were interviewed. A qualitative descriptive design was used. The interviews were analyzed by content analysis focusing on experience by gender. Results: The results embraced two domains descriptions and consequences of chest pain and daily life situation. Words like pressure, cramp, strong, or burning were used in the descriptions of the chest pain experienced with more similarities than variations between men and women. Physical, psychological and social consequences due to chest pain influenced daily life. The men specifically reported having a 'fast tempo' in their lives, with stress at work being seen as a feature experienced by both men and women. Conclusions: This study shows that men and women had more similarities than variations in descriptions of chest pain. Their unexplained chest pain influenced their functions in daily life that led to, especially for the men, few contacts outside the family and therefore a weak social network. © 2005 European Society of Cardiology. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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