To determine whether optimism predicts lower rates of rehospitalization after coronary artery bypass graft surgery for the 6 months after surgery.
A prospective, inception cohort design was used. The sample consisted of all consenting patients (N=309) from a consecutive series of patients scheduled for elective coronary artery bypass graft surgery at a large, metropolitan hospital in Pittsburgh, Pa. To be eligible, patients could not be scheduled for any other coincidental surgery (eg, valve replacement) and could not be in the cardiac intensive care unit or experiencing angina at the time of the referral. Participants were predominantly men (69.9%) and married (80.3%), and averaged 62.8 years of age. Recruitment occurred between January 1992 and January 1994.
Compared with pessimistic persons, optimistic persons were significantly less likely to be rehospitalized for a broad range of aggregated problems (including postsurgical sternal wound infection, angina, myocardial infarction, and the need for another bypass surgery or percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty) generally indicative of a poor response to the initial surgery (odds ratio=0.50, 95% confidence interval=0.33-0.76; P=.001). The effect of optimism was independent of traditional sociodemographic and medical control variables, as well as independent of the effects of self-esteem, depression, and neuroticism. All-cause rehospitalization also tended to be less frequent for optimistic than for pessimistic persons (odds ratio=0.77, 95% confidence interval=0.57-1.05; P=.07).
Optimism predicts a lower rate of rehospitalization after coronary artery bypass graft surgery. Fostering positive expectations may promote better recovery.