Illness, Disability May Not Dampen Spirits

Most sick and disabled people just as happy as healthy folk, study finds

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THURSDAY, Feb. 10, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Many people with severe, disabling illnesses are just as happy as healthy, able-bodied people, says a study by University of Michigan Health System researchers.

The finding offers further proof that ill and disabled people are able to adapt to their situation and show remarkable resilience of spirit, the researchers said. The study appears in the current issue of the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.

For this study, 49 pairs of kidney failure patients receiving dialysis and healthy people used handheld personal digital assistants to record their moods every few hours for a week.

"Our snapshots revealed that the patients were in good moods the vast majority of the time, and that their moods were not substantially worse than those of the healthy people," study lead author Jason Riis, a former University of Michigan graduate student now at Princeton University, said in a prepared statement.

"This is further evidence that people adapt emotionally to serious adversity, such as end-stage kidney failure. People who haven't experienced such adversity assume that it would destroy their happiness when it truth it probably would not," senior author Dr. Peter Ubel, U-M professor of internal medicine and psychology, said in a prepared statement.

"People are more resilient than they think they can be, and can get through things that they probably would never have thought they could," Ubel said.

More information

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SOURCE: University of Michigan Health System, news release, Feb. 7, 2005

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