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Psychosom Med. 2001 Mar-Apr;63(2):257-66.

Clinical implications of a reduction in psychological distress on cardiac prognosis in patients participating in a psychosocial intervention program.

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Faculty of Nursing, University of Montreal, Research Center, Montreal Heart Institute, QC, Canada.



The objective of this secondary analysis was to examine the relationships between a reduction in psychological distress and long-term cardiac and psychological outcomes in post-myocardial infarction patients who participated in a randomized trial of home-based psychosocial nursing interventions (the Montreal Heart Attack Readjustment Trial [M-HART]). Gender differences were considered.


We studied 433 patients (36.0% women) from the M-HART treatment group who received two home visits after achieving a high psychological distress score (ie, > or =5) on the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ). Short-term GHQ success was determined by a return to a normal GHQ score (<5) or a reduction of > or =50% after the two visits. Patients with short-term successful and unsuccessful GHQ outcomes were compared for mid-term maintenance of success, 1-year death and readmission rates, and 1-year depression and anxiety symptoms.


Patients with short-term GHQ success were more likely to show mid-term GHQ success (p < .001), marginally less likely to die of any causes (p = .087), less likely to die of cardiac causes (p = .043), less likely to be readmitted for any reason (p < .001) and for cardiac reasons (p < .001), and less likely to have high depression (p < .001) and anxiety (p < .001) at 1-year than patients with short-term unsuccessful GHQ outcomes. Results held for men and women and were not altered by controlling for potential confounders. However, the number of deaths prevented analysis with statistical controls.


Post-myocardial infarction interventions that reduce psychological distress have the potential to improve long-term prognosis and psychological status for both men and women.

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