Biopsychosocial experiences of adults with congenital heart disease: Review of the literature

Adrienne H. Kovacs, Samuel F. Sears, Arwa S. Saidi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

158 Scopus citations


Background: Approximately 1% of all newborns display some form of congenital heart disease (CHD). Successful medical and surgical management of CHD has allowed 85% of these children to survive into adulthood and produced a new set of challenges for both patients and doctors with an emphasis on quality of life and psychosocial functioning. Methods: The current paper has 3 aims: (1) to summarize the research literature examining the emotional adjustment among this population, (2) to detail the psychological, social, and quality-of-life factors that might result in an increased risk of psychological maladjustment, and (3) to provide clinical management strategies to optimize health outcomes. Results: Current empirical evidence has suggested that compared with same aged reference norms in US studies, adults with CHD had scores indicative of worse emotional functioning as assessed by both clinical interviews and self-report measures. Similar European studies have generally not demonstrated such differences. Additional research suggests that areas of functioning that may be particularly affected include neurocognitive functioning, body image, social and peer relationships, and mild delays in developmental functioning. Conclusions: These studies suggest that patients with CHD are successfully engaging in full adult responsibilities and roles but do experience specific psychosocial challenges that may impact emotional functioning, self-perception, and peer relationships. Lifestyle considerations in young adulthood are significant and impinge on pregnancy considerations and exercise capabilities. Clinical management strategies include increased awareness and dialogue between patients with CHD and physicians regarding psychosocial concerns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)193-201
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican heart journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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