Background: There has been a lack of agreement regarding whether women have poorer outcomes than men following cardiac surgery.
Objectives: To examine the effect of gender on early recovery from cardiac surgery.
Method: Using a prospective descriptive design, 60 men and 60 women who had coronary artery bypass and/or valve surgery completed the study by participating in interviews in the immediate preoperative period and monthly through the third postoperative month. Measures of life quality, life satisfaction, expected/perceived recovery, functional status, global health status, and social support were examined.
Results: Preoperatively, women were more functionally limited (p = 0.019), and reported lower life satisfaction (p = 0.001) and social support (p = 0.006), than men. At 3 months postoperatively, there were few significant differences in outcome measures though women continued to report lesser social support (p = 0.002); women realized significantly greater improvement than men in functional status (p = 0.008); and neither age nor gender consistently predicted recovery.
Conclusions: Recent studies focusing on gender differences in cardiac surgery recovery indicate fewer differences between men and women than once thought. However, the differences identified in this study (women's significantly greater improvement in functional status, lesser social support, and differences in the nature of work to which women return following their surgery) warrant concern and attention in clinical practice.