Anxiety and Depression in Patients with an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator and Their Partners: A Longitudinal Study

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Little is known about the relation between emotional distress of patients with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) and distress of their partners. This longitudinal study aimed to determine the association between patient and partner distress, and to explain distress in patients and partners using demographic, clinical, and psychological characteristics of patients and partners.


In total, 343 patients (84% male, mean age = 63.2 ± 9.2 years) and partners (18% male, mean age = 60.3 ± 9.4 years) completed self-report measures on anxiety and depressive symptoms at the time of implantation and at 2, 12, and 18 months follow-up. Type D personality (DS14; nonexpression of negative emotions) was assessed at baseline. Clinical information was gathered from medical records. Multilevel modeling was applied.


The correlations between distress in patients and partners were positive (range r = 0.19–0.43; all P's < 0.001). Generally, partners experienced more anxiety and patients more depression. Patient and partner characteristics explained about half of the variance of distress of patients and partners. As expected, psychological characteristics had the strongest effect on distress. Patient anxiety was associated with patient depression and Type D, and to the corresponding distress variable of the partner (anxiety). Similar results were found for patient depression, partner anxiety, and partner depression.


Distress of ICD patients is associated with distress of their partners. Future studies need to investigate mechanisms of these patient-partner dynamics, such as communication and behavioral issues. It may be timely to not only focus emotional support on patients, but also on their partners.

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