OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to determine whether physical, psychological and social recovery within the first 6 weeks following coronary artery bypass surgery varied by age. METHODS: A repeated measures design was used for this study. Data were collected from a convenience sample of three age groups of patients at the following times: prior to hospital discharge and at 1, 3 and 6 weeks after discharge. The three age groups studied were less than 60 years, 60 to 70 years and more than 70 years. Data were collected by interview and mail questionnaires. The initial sample consisted of 258 patients, of whom 184 completed the study. Eleven instruments were used to measure recovery including the Sickness Impact Profile, Beck Depression Inventory, Rosenberg Self-Esteem scale and the Symptom Inventory. RESULTS: No significant differences were found among the age groups for any of the physical, psychological or social recovery measures. Within each age group physical, psychological and social recovery improved significantly over time. Although patients more than 70 years of age remained in the hospital significantly longer, once discharged, they did not have more difficulty with recovery than the other age groups. DISCUSSION: As expected, all age groups experienced significant improvement in recovery over time. CONCLUSIONS: Contrary to what past research about cardiac surgery and the elderly might lead one to expect, in this study, the oldest patients did not have the poorest recovery patterns. Persons more than 70 years had recovery patterns similar to those of younger age groups.

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