Psychologist Charles F. Emery, Ph.D., and a team of Ohio State University researchers designed a study to evaluate gender differences in quality of life for people who have coronary artery disease, including unstable angina, myocardial infarction, congestive heart failure, dysrhythmia, valve surgery and transplant surgery.
The research team studied 536 patients, 35 percent of whom were women, with a mean age of 59.5 years. Each patient completed a survey questionnaire and was contacted at 3-month intervals over a 12-month period for follow-up interviews. The survey included measures of psychological functioning and quality of life assessing variables such as activity levels, emotional state, sadness and anxiety. Also included was a measure of each patient's perception of available social support.
Women had lower scores on both mental and physical composite indicators of quality of life at every survey point within the study. Furthermore, there was a significant interaction of baseline ISEL (available social support) and sex for the mental health composite quality of life scores, indicating that poorer mental health quality of life among women was associated with reduced social support. At 12 months, social support and sex predicted the physical health composite quality of life scores. However, results indicated that social support was more relevant for physical health composite scores of men than for women.
The authors conclude that quality of life among women with cardiac disease is "significantly worse than for men" regardless of cardiac diagnosis, age, race or cardiac risk factor, and that qual
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