Postponement of elective cardiac surgery: A prospective observational analysis of anxiety, depression, social support and clinical complications

Helle Spindler, Charlotte Brun Thorup, Dorte Nøhr, Jan Jesper Andreasen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


AIMS: To investigate patients' psychological reactions to postponement of elective cardiac surgery, and whether postponement was associated with increased complications post-operative and while waiting.

DESIGN: A single-centre observational prospective cohort study.

METHODS: All adult patients referred for elective cardiac surgery during the study period were considered for inclusion. Psychological data were collected using a survey distributed to patients prior to surgery and at 6 months post-operative. Clinical data were obtained from patient records.

RESULTS: A total of 83 postponed and 132 non-postponed patients were included. Postponed patients displayed more avoidance behaviour, but only immediately before surgery. Postponed patients maintained their satisfaction with perceived social support, whereas non-postponed patients became more dissatisfied over time. Waiting 0-14 days was associated with increased symptoms of depression before surgery compared to non-postponed patients or those waiting more than 14 days. Surgical complications were the same in both groups. No patients experienced aggravation of their disease leading to urgent or emergent surgery while waiting for surgery. Hospital-related reasons were the most common cause for postponement of surgery.

CONCLUSION: Postponement of selected patients is not associated with increased risk of psychological distress or complications related to the patient's disease.

REPORTING METHOD: Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (STROBE).

IMPLICATIONS FOR PATIENT CARE: Pre- and post-psychological interventions may be relevant to consider in relation to elective cardiac surgery as it has been shown to positively affect outcome. Organisational/hospital-related reasons are still very common causes for postponement of elective surgeries, and hospital administrations should focus upon eliminating/decreasing this.

PUBLIC CONTRIBUTION: Questionnaires filled by patients were used to understand an association between postponement of cardiac surgery and psychological distress.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Issue number19-20
Pages (from-to)7346-7357
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2023


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