Study of dialysis patients yields surprising findings
Despite what able-bodied healthy people might think, people with severe illnesses and disabilities don’t wallow in misery and self-pity all the time. In fact, a new study finds, such patients on the whole may be just as happy as those without major medical conditions. The finding adds to the growing body of evidence that ill and disabled people adapt to their condition and show a resilience of spirit that many healthy people can’t imagine. It’s published in the new issue of the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General by a team led by University of Michigan Health System researchers.
The researchers made their surprising finding by having 49 pairs of dialysis patients and healthy people report their mood every few hours for a week, using a handheld personal digital assistant (PDA) such as a Palm. The patients had all been in dialysis for at least three months, visiting a hemodialysis center three or more times a week for hours at a time to have their blood cleaned because their kidneys had failed. Lead author Jason Riis, a former U-M graduate student now at Princeton University, programmed the PDAs to beep randomly during each two-hour period of an entire week, and prompt participants to report their mood at those random moments by completing a quick series of ratings.
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