A new study reports that with stressed-out and anxious patients it is harder and takes longer for wounds to heal.
The more anxious patients are, the longer their wounds take to heal, according to health psychologist Professor John Weinman, from the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College London
As part of the study, Weinman and colleagues inflicted small 'punch' wounds on healthy volunteers whose levels of life stress were assessed using a standard questionnaire.
The wounds of the least anxious participants were found to heal twice as fast as those of the most stressed. Changes in levels of the stress hormone cortisol reflected the differences in healing speed.
A similar pattern emerged from an analysis of data from 22 studies by different research groups examining stress and wound healing.
Previously, Weinman had shown that wound healing can be enhanced by psychological help aimed at addressing emotional stress.
"My overall research interests are focused on investigating and assessing how patients perceive illness and treatment, and how this affects the way they respond to and recover from a range of physical health problems," the Times quoted Weinman as saying.
"These studies focus specifically on how the life stresses people experience can impact on their ability to recover from different types of wound, such as those caused by surgical procedures and by different medical conditions, including venous leg ulcers.
"I hope that these findings can now be used to identify psychological interventions to help speed up the recovery and healing process," Weinman added.
The findings were presented at the Cheltenham Science Festival.