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Hospital infections and health-related quality of life after cardiac surgery: a multicenter survey.

BACKGROUND: Recent research suggested that hospital infections are a predictive marker for physical non-recovery one year after cardiothoracic surgery. The purpose of this study was to explore whether this risk factor is etiologic. Additional, the influence of a potential effect modifying factor, diabetes mellitus, was investigated.

METHODS: In this multicenter study, patients underwent elective or urgent cardiothoracic surgery between 01-01-2015 and 31-12-2019, and completed pre- and one year post-operative Short Form Health Survey 36/12 quality of life questionnaires. A binary logistic regression model, in which the inverse of the propensity score for infection risk was included as a weight variable, was used. Second, this analysis was stratified for diabetes mellitus status.

RESULTS: 8577 patients were included. After weighing for the propensity score, the standardized mean differences of all variables decreased and indicated sufficient balance between the infection and non-infection groups. Hospital infections were found to be a risk factor for non-recovery after cardiothoracic surgery in the original and imputed dataset before weighting. However, after propensity score weighing, hospital infections did not remain significantly associated with recovery (OR for recovery = 0.79; 95% CI [0.60-1.03]; p = 0.077). No significant interaction between diabetes mellitus and hospital infections on recovery was found (p = 0.845).

CONCLUSIONS: This study could not convincingly establish hospital infections as an etiologic risk factor for non-improvement of physical recovery in patients who underwent cardiothoracic surgery. In addition, there was no differential effect of hospital infections on non-improvement of physical recovery for patients with and without diabetes mellitus. Trial registration International Clinical Trials Registry Platform ID NL9818; date of registration, 22-10-2021 ( ).

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