Studies have shown that anxious or depressed patients may have poorer outcomes after lumbar fusion. These conclusions were drawn from questionnaires specifically designed to measure anxiety and depression. The objective of this study is to determine if responses to the EQ-5D anxiety/depression domain or the items used to calculate the 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36) Mental Component Summary (MCS) can predict outcomes after lumbar fusion surgery.
Patients enrolled in the National Neurosurgery Quality and Outcomes Database from a single center with 1-year follow-up were identified. The outcomes collected include the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), EQ-5D, SF-36, and the back- and leg-pain numeric rating scales (range 0–10). Linear regression modeling was performed to predict the 1-year ODI scores using the EQ-5D anxiety/depression domain and the 14 items used to calculate SF-36 MCS.
Complete data were available for 312 (88%) of 353 eligible patients. The mean patient age was 58.5 years, 175 (56%) patients were women, and 52 patients were smokers. After controlling for other factors, the item in the SF-36 that asks “Have you felt downhearted and depressed?” is the strongest predictor of the 1-year ODI score (r2 = 0.191; p = 0.000) and 1-year EQ-5D score (r2 = 0.205; p = 0.000). Neither the EQ-5D anxiety/depression domain nor the diagnoses of anxiety or depression were predictors of 1-year outcomes.
Patient responses to SF-36 item “Have you felt downhearted and depressed?” account for 20% of the variability of the 1-year ODI and EQ-5D scores and can be used by clinicians to screen for anxiety or depression in patients prior to lumbar fusion surgery. Clinicians may offer psychological support to these patients preoperatively in order to improve treatment outcomes.