PURPOSE: Cardiac rehabilitation (CR) has been shown to reduce cardiac risk and improve the psychosocial functioning of participants. This study examines gender differences on several psychosocial indicators across the course of CR.
METHODS: Patients (N = 380; 67.9% men and 32.1% women) referred from local inpatient and outpatient settings at a southeastern US academic medical facility were assessed on reported levels of depression, anxiety, panic, anger, and relationship satisfaction, using the Burns Brief Mood Survey, at the start and conclusion of a CR program. Medical variables were also assessed but are not the focus of this report. Statistical analyses included 1-way, Kruskal-Wallis, and repeated-measures analysis of variance procedures, as well as χ2 analyses.
RESULTS: Women reported more psychosocial symptoms at pre-CR than men, and overall, both groups improved across CR. Women with significant depression, anxiety, and panic experienced clinically significant benefit across CR. Although the percentage of men reporting clinically significant levels of anger decreased significantly across CR, clinically significant levels of anger did not significantly change among women. In addition, women did not report benefits in relationship dissatisfaction.
CONCLUSION: This study provides further evidence that CR offers psychosocial benefit for women, as has been reported in several small clinical samples. Some notable gender differences on anger and relationship satisfaction were observed. Clinical attention may be warranted to facilitate improvement for symptoms of anger and relationship concerns among selected women who participate in CR.