BACKGROUND: Although use of the internal cardioverter defibrillator in selected high-risk patient groups has significantly improved survival, questions have arisen regarding its impact on psychological adjustment and quality of life. OBJECTIVES: To determine whether there was a difference in perceived quality of life of internal cardioverter defibrillator recipients before implantation, reported retrospectively, and after implantation. METHODS: Survey packets containing a demographic data form, a modified version of the Ferrans and Powers Quality of Life Index: Cardiac Version, and a consent form were mailed to internal cardioverter defibrillator recipients accrued from two hospitals; 70 patients comprised the convenience sample. RESULTS: No significant difference in perceived overall quality of life was revealed by before and after implantation scores of t tests or analyses of variance. Young, unemployed patients with multiple health problems were most at risk for quality of life deficits. Overall, recipients in this study appeared to adapt effectively to the stresses associated with the device. CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that the internal cardioverter defibrillator did not prolong life at a sacrifice to quality of life. These findings can help identify patients at increased risk for quality of life deficits.

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