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Study: Disability Does Not Equal Misery
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
February 11, 2005

ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN--People with severe disabilities and medical conditions are not nearly as miserable as most would assume.

That's the conclusion of an important study done through the University of Michigan Health System, the results of which are published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.

Researchers gave handheld PDAs (personal digital assistants) to 49 patients receiving dialysis for severe kidney failure and to 49 people without a serious medical condition or disability. Over a three month period, the PDAs prompted the participants every few hours to rate their mood.

The results showed that there was little difference over time in how the dialysis patients felt compared to how the "able-bodied" participants felt.

In fact, the data revealed that the dialysis patients were in a good mood most of the time.

The study's authors explained that the research could have serious policy implications.

"People who haven't experienced such adversity assume that it would destroy their happiness when in truth it probably would not," said senior author Peter Ubel, M.D., a U-M professor of internal medicine and psychology.

"People are more resilient than they think they can be, and can get through things that they probably would have never thought they could. The fact that people seem to be so poor at estimating the effect of illness on mood calls into question some of the ways we use such quality-of-life estimates in policy making and research."

The researchers also found that the patients actually felt much better than either they or the other participants predicted they would feel.

"Unbelievably happy?" (University of Michigan Health System)
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General


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