This study aimed to demonstrate the impact of elective major abdominal surgery and subsequent postoperative delirium on quality of life (QOL; primary outcome), cognitive functioning and depressive symptoms (secondary outcomes) in older surgical patients.
A single-centre, longitudinal prospective cohort study was conducted between November 2015 and June 2018, including patients ≥70 years old who underwent surgery for colorectal cancer or an abdominal aortic aneurysm. They were followed-up at discharge and at 6 and 12 months postoperatively until June 2019. QOL was assessed with the World Health Organization Quality of Life-BREF questionnaire (WHOQOL-BREF). Cognitive functioning was measured with the Mini-Mental State Examination and depressive symptoms with the CES-D 16.
In all patients (n = 265), physical and psychological health were significantly lower at discharge compared to baseline (p < 0.001 for both domains). Physical health restored after 6 months, but psychological health remained decreased for the complete study period. Psychological, social and environmental QOL were significantly worse in patients with delirium compared to patients without (p = 0.001, p = 0.006 and p = 0.001 respectively). The cognitive functioning score was significantly lower at baseline in patients with delirium compared to those without (p = 0.006). Patients with delirium had a significantly higher CES-D 16 score compared to those without after 12 months (p = 0.027).
Physical and psychological QOL were decreased in the early postoperative period. While physical health was restored after 6 and 12 months, psychological health remained decreased. After 12 months, postoperative delirium resulted in worse psychological, social and environmental QOL and more depressive symptoms. Decreased cognitive functioning may be a risk factor for delirium.
- cognitive functioning
- elective surgery
- older patients
- postoperative delirium
- quality of life