In Sickness and in Health

Married adults who undergo heart surgery have higher survival rates

Married adults who undergo heart surgery are more than three times more likely to survive the next three months than single people who have the same surgery.

“We found that marriage boosted survival whether the patient was a man or a woman,”says Emory Professor of Sociology Ellen Idler, lead author of the study.

The Journal of Health and Social Behavior is publishing the results, which were coauthored by David Boulifard and Richard Contrada, both from Rutgers University.

While the most striking difference in outcomes occurred during the first three months, the study showed that the strong protective effect of marriage continues for up to five years following coronary artery bypass surgery. Overall, the hazard of mortality is nearly twice as great for unmarried as it is for married patients about to undergo the surgery.

“The findings underscore the important role of spouses as caregivers during health crises,” Idler says. “And husbands were apparently just as good at caregiving as wives.”

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