Psychosocial Factors in Heart Surgery: Presurgical Vulnerability and Postsurgical Recovery

Richard J. Contrada, David A. Boulifard, Eric B. Hekler, Ellen L. Idler, Tanya M. Spruill, Erich W. Labouvie, Tyrone J. Krause

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Objective: Distress and low perceived social support were examined as indicators of psychosocial vulnerability in patients about to undergo heart surgery. Design: A total of 550 study patients underwent heart surgeries, including bypass grafting and valve procedures. Psychosocial interviews were conducted about five days before surgery, and biomedical data were obtained from hospital records. Main Outcome Measures: Sociodemographic, personality, religious, and biomedical factors were evaluated as predictors of psychosocial vulnerability, and all five sets of variables were evaluated as contributors to hospital length of stay (LOS). Results: Patients scoring higher on one or more indicator of presurgical psychosocial vulnerability were younger, more likely to be female, less likely to be married, less well educated, lower in dispositional optimism, higher in trait anger, and lower in religiousness. Older age, depression, low support, and low trait anger each showed an independent, prospective association with greater LOS, and several other predictors had prospective relationships with LOS that were statistically mediated by depression or perceived support. Conclusion: Evidence that multiple psychosocial factors may influence adaptation to heart surgery has implications for understanding and ameliorating presurgical distress and for improving postsurgical recovery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)309-319
Number of pages11
JournalHealth Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • coronary artery bypass surgery
  • distress
  • hospital length of stay
  • psychosocial factors
  • valve surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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