| NEW YORK
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Stroke patients who have a
positive outlook function better on their own three months
after leaving the hospital than stroke survivors with a
gloomier attitude, new research shows.
This greater independence translates to requiring less help
with activities of daily living such as bathing and preparing
food, report Dr. Glenn V. Ostir of the University of Texas
Medical Branch in Galveston and colleagues.
"Being as independent as you can is very, very important"
for people recovering from a stroke, Ostir told Reuters Health,
and it also makes a big difference in quality of life for the
families of stroke survivors. "Positive emotion, however it's
defined, is really important to a person's health. It helps
them on so many different levels."
There is a growing body of evidence linking positive
emotions to better health, but less is known about how looking
on the bright side might affect recovery from illness or a
medical event such as a stroke, Ostir and his colleagues write
in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine.
To investigate, the team surveyed 823 male and female
stroke patients 55 and older who were recovering in the
hospital, and followed up with them three months after they
Their scores on a 12-point positive emotion summary test
were directly tied to where they ranked on a standardized test
called the Functional Independence Measure (FIM) three months
later. With each one-point increase on the positive emotion
test, patients' FIM scores also rose about a point, the
People who decide to tackle stroke recovery as a challenge
will tend to do better than those who feel "helpless or
hopeless," Ostir noted. They are probably more likely to show
up for rehabilitation appointments, for example, and
individuals with a positive outlook may also tend to have
stronger social support networks, he said.
While people are born with a certain temperament,
environment plays a key role in outlook as well, Ostir noted,
so people who tend towards negativity don't have to be doomed
to a lifetime of thinking that way.
"We do have some control over our health and well being,
and it's better to have a positive outlook on life than not,"
SOURCE: Psychosomatic Medicine, May 2008.