Improved quality of life is a major goal for cardiac surgery. This review concerns 29 articles published between January 2004 and December 2010. Only nine studies present preoperative and postoperative registered quality of life data. These studies have a short follow-up and a limited number of patients included. Most other studies starts at a certain point in the follow-up and compare different patient groups or techniques, but do not evaluate postoperative vs. preoperative quality of life. In an era of evidence-based medicine, there is a lack of major and well-organized clinical studies dealing with quality of life after cardiac surgery. Based on this review, five requirements for 'good' studies on this subject can be formulated: information about the total number of patients that could be included; the number of patients actually included; information about preoperative quality of life; information on what was done about patients with missing data; and at least minimum information about demographics, co-morbidity and the cardiac risk of patients who were not included or who dropped out. These points seem to us to be essential for validation of the results presented.