Public Release: 

The power of positive thinking

Canadian Medical Association Journal

Does how you do depend on how you think you'll do? A systematic review of the evidence for a relation between patients' recovery expectations and health outcomes
-- M.V. Mondloch, D. C. Cole, J. W. Frank

The old saying that patients with positive outlooks tend to do better than those who don't has withstood the passage of time, to the point that most clinicians even believe it. In order to determine the evidence behind this belief, Donald Cole and coauthors conducted a systematic review the literature. The authors found 16 relevant articles published between 1966 and June 1998 that provided at least moderate-quality evidence of an association between positive expectations and improved outcomes. The most commonly studied conditions were myocardial infarction, cardiac surgery, chronic pain and psychiatric conditions.

The authors propose a variety of mechanisms to account for the association, but whether this is a causal or a predictive effect remains uncertain. Contact: Dr. Donald Cole, Institute for Work and Health, Toronto


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