Objective: In community dwelling older adults, depression and anxiety symptoms can be associated with early cognitive decline. Symptoms of depression and anxiety are common in older adults prior to surgery. However, their significance is unknown. Our objective was to determine whether preoperative depression and anxiety symptoms are associated with postoperative cognitive decline (POCD) and in-hospital delirium, in older surgical patients. Methods: We conducted a secondary data analysis of postoperative cognitive dysfunction in a cohort study of patients 65 and older undergoing elective noncardiac surgery. We used the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) to screen for depression and anxiety symptoms at a home visit prior to surgery and 3 months after surgery. Patients with a history of psychiatric (major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia) or neurologic disorder (Parkinson's disease and stroke) were excluded from the parent study. Results: Out of the 167 patients, 9.6% (n = 16) reported significant depressive symptoms and 21.6% (n = 36) reported significant anxiety symptoms on preoperative screening. There was no association between preoperative or new-onset postoperative depression and anxiety symptoms and the incidence of delirium or POCD three months after surgery. Patients with preoperative depressive symptoms had higher preoperative pain (scores 69 vs. 35.7, p =.002) and frailty (56 vs. 14.6, p <.001). Conclusion: In our cohort, we did not detect an association between preoperative depression and anxiety symptoms and neurocognitive disorders. Preoperative depression and anxiety symptoms were related to physical pain and frailty. Taken together, these suggest that in patients without a formal psychiatric diagnosis, preoperative depression and anxiety symptoms are related to physical state rather than a harbinger of early cognitive decline. Future studies are needed to understand the nature of the relationship between depression and anxiety symptoms and physical state in surgical patients.
- postoperative cognitive decline
- postoperative complications