Daniel Hinshaw and fellow researchers reported in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons that people with more active friendship networks felt less pain and anxiety pre-surgery. As a result, they used less pain medication, felt less post-operative pain/anxiety and had faster recuperation times.
Hinshad indicated that surgeons should ask patients about levels of social support in addition to other more commonly asked questions asked of patients pre-surgery and build support for patients who are more socially isolated into their surgical plans.
Reuters Health noted that “Hinshaw, at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System and the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and his colleagues had been conducting a study of massage therapy in 605 patients who underwent major surgery of the chest or abdominal area, and performed the current analysis to determine how social connectedness affected a variety of outcomes.
“The researchers gauged social connectedness by counting how many close friends and relatives study participants had, how often they saw them, and whether they attended a place of worship or other social function at least once a week. Nearly 88 percent of the study participants reported having three or more friends or relatives they saw at least once a month, while 12 percent had less than three…..Individuals with larger social networks were less likely to have anxious personalities, and they felt less pain and anxiety before surgery.”
Patients with larger social networks were 16% less likely to spend 7 or more days in the hospital.
View abstract here.