God heals, and the doctor takes the fee.
-Benjamin Franklin

From "The New York Times," by John O'Neil:

Women who had heart bypass surgery fared better if their husbands were shown a video before the operation that presented an optimistic view of the recovery, a study has found.

Many studies have found that wives do a better job of caring for husbands than husbands do for wives. And in the new study, published this month in the journal Health Psychology, the 70 women who were patients had a higher rate of complications and return visits to the hospital in the six months after surgery than the 226 men.

But one group of women was an exception. The researchers, from the University of California at San Diego, divided the patients into three groups. In one, patients' spouses were given only the standard information before the operation about what to expect about recovery, often a painful and distressing process.

A second group was also shown a videotape in which bypass patients discussed the ups and downs of recovery. The third group was shown a video in which patients discussed only their progress after surgery. For male patients, it did not appear to matter what kind of information their wives were shown or given. But it made a big difference for the women: patients whose husbands were shown the highly optimistic tape returned to the hospital 25 percent less often, and had fewer complications and signs of mental distress.

The study's lead author, Dr. Heike I. Mahler, a psychologist, said that family members needed to prepare themselves mentally for the effect of the surgery and that "it may be important, particularly in the early recovery period, for patients and family members to look for and focus on those things that are going well."

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