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Abstract

A study of 81 cholecystectomy patients evaluated the relative contributions of instruction in a specific coping strategy and two types of informational interventions on subjective and objective indicators of recovery from surgery. The two experimental factors in the 2 × 3 × 2 factorial design were instruction in coping activities (present or absent) and information (description of typical sensations, description of typical events, or no information). The nonexperimental factor was preoperative fear (high or low). Self-report of moods, severity of pain, and bother of ambulation were the subjective indicators. Analgesics received, amount of ambulation, length of postoperative hospitalization, and time after hospital discharge before patients ventured from their homes were the objective indicators. Instruction in coping activities, description of sensations, and description of events all were found to dampen negative moods postoperatively for patients relatively fearful before surgery. Description of typical sensations significantly reduced the length of postoperative hospitalization and time after hospital discharge before patients ventured from their homes. Another sutdy of 68 herniorrhaphy patients, using the same design, resulted in only minor effects for any of the three interventions. Explanations for the different results between studies are offered.