Life Imitates Art

Reports that watching videos speed recovery from illness. Three types of videos for candidates for coronary bypass surgery; Reason for the health effectiveness of watching video; Views of psychologist Heike Mahler of the University of California in San Diego.

By Camille Chatterjee, published March 1, 1999 - last reviewed on June 9, 2016


How to speed your recovery from illness? It may be as easy as kicking back and watching a video. Three groups of candidates for coronary bypass surgery each watched a different 40-minute video before the operation: one film was a tutorial on recovery exercises, the second depicted happy bypass survivors and the third featured former patients who had recovered with difficulty. Subjects watching any of the tapes were released almost three days sooner from the hospital than patients who didn't see a video. The reason? They believed most strongly in their ability to speed their own recovery. Head researcher Heike Mahler, Ph.D., psychologist at the University of California, San Diego, believes that these results translate to patients undergoing other types of surgery--saving time and money both for patients and for health care workers.