As medical treatments for coronary heart disease have become more sophisticated, they have also become more costly. Evidence concerning the effects of medical and rehabilitative therapies on post-myocardial infarction patients' quality of life, including return to work and to normal levels of functioning, has been mixed. At the same time. recent data suggest that psychosocial factors, such as social isolation and depression, are important predictors of morbidity and mortality in coronary heart disease patients. These studies suggest that interventions which provide psychological support to myocardial infarction patients may enhance both the psychosocial and physical recovery of these patients. To the extent that supportive interventions can be shown to impact favorably on survival and health-related quality of life in myocardial infarction patients, the human and financial costs associated with coronary heart disease can be reduced. The initiative originated in the Working Group on Psychosocial Interventions which met in June 1992.
The initiative was given concept clearance by the October 1993 National Heart, Lung, and Blood Advisory Council. The Request for Proposals was released in September 1994.
The study design compared a psychosocial intervention group, in which patients were provided with social and psychological treatment designed to decrease social isolation and depression, with a standard medical care group. The combined endpoint was death and reinfarction, measured for up to 4.5 years following hospital discharge. Secondary endpoints included assessment of health quality of life (HQL).
The protocol was approved in May 1996. Recruitment began in October 1996 and ended on October 31, 1999 with 2,481 patients enrolled.