Our aim was to prospectively examine the association of psychosocial factors with adverse outcome after cardiac surgery. One hundred and eighty cardiac surgery patients were enrolled and contacted annually by mail. Depression [Beck depression inventory (BDI)], anxiety [state anxiety subscale in Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI-S) and trait anxiety subscale in Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI-T)] were investigated annually, social support, negative affectivity, social inhibition (SI), illness intrusiveness, self-rated health and sleeping disorders were investigated by standardized tests at the second and fifth year. The end-point was the major adverse cardiac and cerebrovascular event (MACCE) including death. Twenty-eight (15.5%) patients died by the end of the fifth year. At the end of the second and fifth years, 146 (81.1%) and 118 (65.5%) patients fulfilled the tests, respectively. At the end of the second year after adjustment for medical and perioperative factors worse self-rated health [adjusted hazard ratio (AHR): 0.67, P=0.006], sleeping disorders (AHR: 1.14, P=0.001), higher illness intrusiveness (AHR: 1.03, P=0.018), higher BDI (AHR: 1.12, P=0.001), STAI-S (AHR: 1.09, P=0.001) and higher STAI-T scores (AHR: 1.08, P=0.002) showed higher risk for MACCE. Significant individual elevation in scores of sleeping disorders, illness intrusiveness and SI were observed over the three-year period in the MACCE group. Assessment of psychosocial factors could help in identifying patients at high-risk for MACCE after cardiac surgery.