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J Behav Med. 2011 Dec;34(6):532-41. doi: 10.1007/s10865-011-9334-8. Epub 2011 Mar 26.

Secular reverence predicts shorter hospital length of stay among middle-aged and older patients following open-heart surgery.

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  • 1School of Social Work and Department of Family Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, USA.


This study explored the role of both traditional religiousness and of experiencing reverence in religious and secular (e.g., naturalistic, moralistic) contexts in postoperative hospital length of stay among middle-aged and older patients undergoing open-heart surgery. Reverence was broadly defined as "feeling or attitude of deep respect, love, and awe, as for something sacred." Information on demographics, faith factors, mental health, and medical comorbidities was collected from 400 + patients (age 62 ± 12) around 2 weeks before surgery via personal interview. Standardized medical indices were retrieved from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons' national database. Hierarchical multiple regression showed that reverence in secular contexts predicted shorter hospitalization, after controlling for key demographics, medical indices, depression, and psychosocial protectors. Other hospital length of stay predictors included female gender, older age, more medical comorbidities, low left ventricular ejection fraction, long perfusion time, and coronary bypass graft surgery. Secular reverence exerts a protective impact on physical health.

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