Music as an Interpretive Lens: Patients' Experiences of Discharge Following Open-heart Surgery


  • Linda Liu Ryerson University
  • Jennifer Lapum Ryerson University
  • Suzanne Fredericks Ryerson University
  • Terrence Yau Toronto General Hospital
  • Vaska Micevski Ryerson University



arts-informed research, music, narrative research, discharge planning, heart health, secondary analysis


In this article, we highlight the use of music as an interpretive lens to understand patients' experiences of discharge following open-heart surgery. We adopted an arts-informed narrative methodology and interviewed participants at 1 and 4-6 weeks following discharge. Our secondary analysis followed an aesthetic approach that involved application of musical principles including rhythm, timing, and tone to frame our interpretation. We found that the tensions, harmony and relational dynamics between patients and practitioners were best elucidated when viewed through the lens of a solo concerto; this is orchestral work that features a soloist. Our findings have an impact on the discourse of patient-centered care and the need to re-orient communication measures so that practitioners can access the internalized space of patients' mind and body. Since music as an interpretive lens is embryonic in its development, its use has expansive implications for fostering aesthetic knowing in research and health care.



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Author Biographies

Linda Liu, Ryerson University

Linda LIU is a pianist and music teacher and in her fourth and final year of the Ryerson, Centennial and George Brown Collaborative Nursing Degree Program. She received a Ryerson University Undergraduate Research Opportunities Scholarship and worked with Dr. LAPUM to develop the use of music as an interpretive lens in this arts-informed study.

Jennifer Lapum, Ryerson University

Dr. Jennifer LAPUM is an Associate Professor who has developed an arts-informed program of research in the health sciences. She is a poet and researcher who uses arts-informed methods (poetry, narrative, images) to advance the capacity for humanistic approaches to health care as well as knowledge translation.

Suzanne Fredericks, Ryerson University

Dr. Suzanne FREDERICK is an Associate Professor whose research focus is on exploring the characteristics of teaching (timing, mode, dose) and learning (influence of culture, sex, age and education) on health outcomes.

Terrence Yau, Toronto General Hospital

Dr. Terrence YAU is a cardiovascular surgeon whose clinical interests include advanced heart failure, heart transplantation, complex coronary artery surgery and valvular surgery. His research expertise is in clinical trials of cardiac stem cell transplantation and cardiac protection during heart surgery.

Vaska Micevski, Ryerson University

Vaska MICEVSKI is an instructor who teaches nursing theory and research in the Ryerson, Centennial and George Brown Collaborative Nursing Degree Program.




How to Cite

Liu, L., Lapum, J., Fredericks, S., Yau, T., & Micevski, V. (2012). Music as an Interpretive Lens: Patients’ Experiences of Discharge Following Open-heart Surgery. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 14(1).



Single Contributions