Purpose: To explore associations between HRQL, marital status, and comorbid disorders in men and women following cardiac surgery.
Method: A secondary analysis was completed using data from a randomized controlled trial in which 416 individuals (23% women) scheduled for elective coronary artery bypass graft and/or valve surgery were recruited between March 2012 and September 2013. HRQL was assessed using the Health State Descriptive System (15D) preoperatively, then at 2 weeks, and at 3, 6, and 12 months following cardiac surgery. Linear mixed model analyses were performed to explore associations between HRQL, social support, and comorbid disorders.
Results: The overall 15D scores for the total sample improved significantly from 2 weeks to 3 months post surgery, with only a gradual change observed from 3 to 12 months. Thirty percent (n = 92) of the total sample reported a lower 15D total score at 12 months compared to preoperative status, of whom 78% (n = 71) had a negative minimum important differences (MID), indicating a worse HRQL status. When adjusted for age and marital status, women had statistically significant lower 15D total scores compared to men at 3, 6, and 12 months post surgery. Compared to pre-surgery, improvement was demonstrated in 4 out of 15 dimensions of HRQL for women, and in 6 out of 15 dimensions for men at 12 months post surgery. Both men and women associated back/neck problems, depression, and persistent pain intensity with lower HRQL; for women, not living with a partner/spouse was associated with lower HRQL up to 12 months.
Conclusion: Women experienced decreased HRQL and a slower first-year recovery following cardiac surgery compared to men. This study demonstrates a need for follow-up and support to help women manage their symptoms and improve their function within the first year after cardiac surgery. This was particularly pronounced for those women living alone.
Keywords: Cardiac surgery; Comorbidity; Gender differences; Health-related quality of life; Marital status; Social support.