To enhance individual and family health during recovery from heart surgery, this study employed nursing interventions based on self-efficacy and family stress theory during the hospitalization period and for 3 months thereafter. The effectiveness of the interventions were assessed through a randomized trial in which 67 prospective bypass and valve surgery patients, aged 30-77 years, and their spouses, were allocated either the experimental interventions or usual care and followed for 6 months. At 3 months post-surgery, the only statistically significant differences between the experimentals and controls were on perceived self-efficacy for lifting and tolerating emotional distress. At 6 months no significant differences were found on individual or family measures. Analyses revealed that age, gender and preoperative cardiac status significantly affected individual recovery. The study is continuing with a larger sample in order to explicate the recovery process and to better determine whether a low intensity nursing intervention can effect changes in individual and family recovery.