The effect of psychological intervention on recovery from surgery and heart attacks: an analysis of the literature

Am J Public Health. 1982 Feb;72(2):141-51. doi: 10.2105/ajph.72.2.141.


A quantitative review of 34 controlled studies demonstrates that, on the average, surgical or coronary patients who are provided information or emotional support to help them master the medical crisis do better than patients who receive only ordinary care. A review of 13 studies that used hospital days post-surgery or post-heart attack as outcome indicators showed that on the average psychological intervention reduced hospitalization approximately two days below the control group's average of 9.92 days. Most of the interventions were modest and, in most studies, were not matched in any way to the needs of particular patients or their coping styles. Beyond the intrinsic value of offering humane and considerate care, the evidence is that psychological care can be cost-effective.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Emotions
  • Female
  • Heart Arrest / psychology*
  • Heart Arrest / rehabilitation
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Professional-Patient Relations*
  • Surgical Procedures, Operative / psychology*
  • Surgical Procedures, Operative / rehabilitation