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Mental health may influence risk of wound complications

Depression or anxiety may affect risk of experiencing wound-related complications after surgery

Ingrid Torjesen

Friday, 17 February 2017

Patients' mental health may affect their risk of experiencing wound-related complications after surgery, research* published in the British Journal of Surgery shows.

The study included nearly 177,000 patients in England undergoing hip replacements, knee replacements, hernia repairs, and varicose vein operations. The researchers found that the likelihood of experiencing wound complications after a hip replacement were 1.17-times greater for patients with moderate anxiety or depression than those without. Patients with moderate anxiety or depression also had a 1.20-times greater likelihood of being readmitted for a wound complication and had longer durations of hospital stay on average. Similar results were seen across all types of operations and were larger for patients with extreme anxiety or depression.

Lead author of the study, Philip Britteon, said: "This relationship warrants further exploration in order to understand the mechanisms and potential opportunities for intervention."

He added: "The study also emphasises the importance of the psychological state before surgery, and the fact that psychological disorders are often overlooked. Preoperative assessment should address psychological as well as physical health, given the significant impact of anxiety/depression on wound-related complications and readmissions."

* Britteon P, Cullum N, Sutton M. Association between psychological health and wound complications after surgery. British Journal of Surgery, February 2017. DOI: 10.1002/bjs.10474

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