Evaluation of Older Age and Frailty as Factors Associated With Depression and Postoperative Decision Regret in Patients Undergoing Major Head and Neck Surgery

Carissa M Thomas, Michael C Sklar, Jie Su, Wei Xu, John R de Almeida, Patrick Gullane, Ralph Gilbert, Dale Brown, Jonathan Irish, Shabbir M H Alibhai, David P Goldstein
JAMA Otolaryngology—Head & Neck Surgery 2019 October 17

Importance: Clinicians should understand the prevalence of depression and decision regret in patients with head and neck cancer and whether these factors differ with age or frailty.

Objectives: To assess whether age and frailty are associated with preoperative and/or worsening postoperative depression and postoperative decision regret in patients undergoing major head and neck surgery and to identify additional factors associated with depression and decision regret.

Design, Setting, and Participants: This prospective cohort study was conducted at a single institution, with patients aged 50 years or older undergoing major head and neck surgery recruited from December 1, 2011, to April 30, 2014. Statistical analysis was performed from July 1, 2018, to June 30, 2019.

Main Outcomes and Measures: Frailty, functional, and geriatric depression assessments were completed before surgery and 3, 6, and 12 months after surgery. Decision regret assessment was completed 6 months after surgery. The prevalence of depression and decision regret was determined by age group. Change in depression over time was compared between age groups using a linear-effects model. Variables potentially associated with moderate to severe depression and decision regret were analyzed using a logistic regression model.

Results: The study included 274 patients (68 women and 206 men; mean [SD] age, 67.8 [9.5] years). Of these, 105 (38.3%) were 50 to 64 years of age and 169 (61.7%) were 65 years or older. The rate of preoperative moderate to severe depression was 9.6% (21 of 219), with no difference between younger and older adult cohorts. For both age groups, depression scores increased in the postoperative period from baseline to 6 months. At 12 months, there was a difference in depression scores between the younger and older adult cohort (4.8 [4.6] vs 3.1 [3.6]). A higher preoperative Fried Frailty Index score (odds ratio, 2.58 [95% CI, 1.63-4.06]) was associated with preoperative moderate to severe depression. For all patients, the mean Decision Regret Scale score was 18.2 (range, 0-95), and 26.7% of patients (48 of 180) had moderate to severe regret. There was no difference in Decision Regret Scale scores between younger and older patients. Preoperative depression but not frailty is associated with postoperative moderate to severe decision regret (odds ratio, 1.17 [95% CI, 1.06-1.28]).

Conclusions and Relevance: In this cohort study, there was no difference based on age in the prevalence of moderate to severe depression or decision regret. A higher preoperative frailty score was associated with depression but not decision regret. Preoperative depression was the only factor associated with moderate to severe decision regret on multivariate analysis. Understanding the prevalence of and factors associated with moderate to severe depression and decision regret may aid in identifying patients who would benefit from more extensive preoperative counseling and preoperative and postoperative multispecialty assessment and treatment.


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