Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 45-63

First online:

Emotional support as a moderator of adjustment and compliance after coronary artery bypass surgery: A longitudinal study

  • James A. KulikAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, 0109, University of California
  • , Heike I. M. MahlerAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, 0109, University of CaliforniaCalifornia State University

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The independent relationships of emotional support and marital status with posthospital adjustments following coronary artery bypass surgery (CABS) were examined longitudinally with an intake sample of 85 male patients. Follow-ups occurred at 1, 4, and 13 months after hospital release. Demographic characteristics (age, education) and cardiac status at the time of surgery (wall motion abnormalities) were controlled statistically. As anticipated, married patients were higher in emotional support throughout the follow-up period than were their unmarried counterparts, and both groups reported decreased support with time. Of more interest, higher support was significantly and independently predictive of better emotional status (lower anxiety, depression), perceived quality of life, and compliance with recommended behaviors (ambulating and not smoking). Support did not predict cardiac health (angina episodes, doctor visits for cardiac problems) during follow-up, however. There was no evidence that marital status, independent of emotional support, was related significantly to outcomes.

Key words

emotional support marital status coronary artery bypass surgery (CABS) adjustment compliance quality of life