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Psychosom Med. 2004 Jul-Aug;66(4):527-32.

Role of spousal anxiety and depression in patients' psychosocial recovery after a cardiac event.

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  • 1College of Nursing, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40536-0232, USA.



The purposes of this study were to a) compare emotional responses and perception of control of patients and their spouses to myocardial infarction or coronary revascularization; and b) examine the relationship between spouses' emotional distress and patients' emotional distress and psychosocial adjustment to the cardiac event.


A total of 417 patient-spouse pairs were recruited after the patient was hospitalized for either acute myocardial infarction or coronary revascularization. We compared emotional responses of patients and spouses. The relationship between spouse anxiety and depression, and patient psychosocial distress was then determined.


Spouses had higher levels of anxiety (p <.001) and depression (p <.001) than did patients, but there were no differences in level of hostility. Patients also expressed higher levels of perceived control than did spouses (p <.001). Spouse anxiety, depression, and perceived control remained correlated with patient psychosocial adjustment to illness, even when patient anxiety and depression were kept constant. Patients' psychosocial adjustment to illness was worse when spouses were more anxious or depressed than patients, and it was best when patients were more anxious or depressed than spouses, whereas psychosocial adjustment to illness was intermediate to these 2 extremes when patient and spouse anxiety and depression levels were similar (p =.001).


Spouses often experience greater anxiety and depression and less perceived control than patients themselves. Attention to the psychological distress experienced by spouses of patients who have suffered a cardiac event may improve outcomes in patients.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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