These results indicate that overall perceived quality of life in spouses of heart transplant patients did not change significantly from the pretransplant period to 1 year posttransplantation. Conversely, specific factors influencing quality of life such as health, socioeconomic satisfaction, family satisfaction, coping styles, and the impact of the transplant experience on the spouses' life did change after transplantation. One year after heart transplantation, spouses reported less satisfaction with their health and socioeconomic status but more satisfaction with their family than they experienced before the transplant. In addition, spouses used less fatalistic, emotive, optimistic, and self-reliant coping styles after transplant than before. Lastly, spouses perceived the transplant experience more positively after the transplant than they did before the transplant. An ideal analysis would encompass data collected at more frequent periods pretransplantation and posttransplantation. The significant negative change found in the spouses' perceived health 1 year after transplant when compared with the spouses' perceived health before the transplant was based on a single-item question. A more comprehensive measure is needed to assess the health changes in the spouse that take place over time. This investigation highlights the importance of studying the impact that a catastrophic illness has on family members and the patient. As health care systems cut costs and streamline production, the needs of spouses and family members are more likely to be ignored. As a result, at some point in the future they could enter the health care arena as patients themselves. Early interventions are thus necessary to support family members of patients during the illness and throughout the recovery trajectory.