Delirium and long-term psychopathology following surgery in older adults

Nikki de Mul, Lisa M E C van den Bos, Ilse M J Kant, Simone J T van Montfort, Willem-Jan M Schellekens, Olaf L Cremer, Arjen J C Slooter

Onderzoeksoutput: Articlepeer review

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OBJECTIVE: To describe the risk of postoperative delirium and long-term psychopathology (depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSS)) in older adults.

METHODS: 255 elderly patients (≥ 65 years) undergoing major surgery (planned surgical time > 60 min) in a tertiary hospital were compared to 76 non-surgical controls from general practice. Patients were assessed twice daily for postoperative delirium using the Confusion Assessment Method (CAM(-ICU)), nursing delirium screening scale (NuDESC) and validated chart review. Before surgery and 3 and 12 months thereafter, the participants filled in the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS-15) and the Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome-14-Questions Inventory (PTSS-14). Non-surgical controls filled in the same questionnaires with similar follow-up.

RESULTS: Patients were more often male, had higher American Society of Anesthesiologists scores and more often had a spouse compared to controls (p < 0.005). Forty-three patients (18%) developed postoperative delirium, who were significantly older, had higher ASA scores and lower estimated IQ scores compared to the patients who did not develop delirium (p < 0.05). There were no differences in psychopathology at baseline and 3-month follow-up between patients and controls. At 12-months, surgical patients less frequently scored positive for depression (7% versus 16%) and anxiety (2% versus 10%) compared to nonsurgical controls (p < 0.05). We did not observe differences in occurrence of psychopathology between patients who had and had not developed postoperative delirium.

CONCLUSION: Our results suggest that the older surgical population, with or without postoperative delirium, does not appear to be at greater risk of developing psychopathology. WHY DOES THIS PAPER MATTER?: The older surgical population does not appear to be at greater risk of developing psychopathology, neither seems this risk influenced by the occurrence of postoperative delirium.

Originele taal-2English
TijdschriftJournal of Psychosomatic Research
Vroegere onlinedatum30 jan 2022
StatusPublished - apr 2022

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Copyright © 2022 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


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