• Keeping Friends

Friends: Just what the doctor (surgeon) ordered

Published: February 16, 2008 | Last Updated: April 2, 2016 By | Reply Continue Reading

Need another reason to nurture your friendships? Every year,
about 15 million Americans undergo surgical procedures. Whenever anyone goes
under the knife, even for an elective procedure, it is likely to be a time of great stress.

Whether the surgery is for breast cancer, an ovarian cyst or
a cosmetic procedure, female friendships can help ease an otherwise difficult
journey. Friends can provide physician referrals, listen when you need another
set of eyes and ears to interview a doctor, and provide a potent dose of
caring and cheer at your bedside. A new study published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons confirms that a strong
network of family and friends can even ease postoperative pain and anxiety—and speed

“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,” says Allison R. Mitchinson, MPH, who works with the Ann Arbor (MI)
Healthcare System and was one of the co-authors of the

The researchers studied more than 600 patients undergoing
major thoracic or abdominal operations at two Veterans Affairs’ medical centers.
Prior to surgery, the patients responded to a questionnaire that elicited the
numbers and frequency of their social contacts. Patients with smaller social
networks reported significantly higher preoperative pain intensity,
unpleasantness, and anxiety.

Like exercising regularly and eating a balanced diet, maintaining meaningful
friendships is one of the things we can all do to improve health, prevent disease
and extend life,

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