A strong social network has long been known to be an important factor in ensuring well being of a person. Now a new study has shown that this also plays a vital role in the earlier recovery of a patient undergoing a surgery.
The study has found that a large support network of family and friends help in reducing the pain and anxiety prior to having a surgical procedure and the postoperative recovery.
"Strong social connectedness can have a tremendous impact on patient recovery by helping blunt the effect of stress caused by postoperative pain, as well as ease concerns about health, finances and separation from family members," said Allison R. Mitchinson, MPH, NCTMB, research health science specialist, Department of Veterans Affairs, Ann Arbor (MI) Healthcare System.
The study in involved patients undergoing major thoracic or abdominal operations at two Veterans Affairs' medical centres
Prior to the operations, patients were given a questionnaire assessing their number of friends and relatives and how frequently contact was made with the members of their social networks.
Patients rated levels of pre- and postoperative pain intensity and unpleasantness, as well as postoperative levels of anxiety, depression, relaxation, and inner peace using visual analogue scales.
The study found that patients reporting a smaller social network had higher preoperative pain intensity, unpleasantness, and anxiety.
"Since patients with limited social connections will likely require more pain medications, have longer hospital stays, and need additional caregiver attention after a surgical procedure, it is important that physicians are aware of this link," added study co-author Daniel B. Hinshaw, MD, FACS, a researcher with the Department of Veterans Affairs, Ann Arbor Healthcare System.
"Patients should be preoperatively screened for pain and anxiety because these are strong predictors of a more difficult postoperative recovery," he added.