November 16, 2022

Loneliness linked to postop mortality in Medicare patients

By: Judy Mathias

Editor's Note

In this study of Medicare patients, researchers from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, find that loneliness is associated with an increased risk of death at 30 days after nonelective surgery.

Of 4,453 patients in the analysis, 623 (14%) had nonelective surgery. The mean loneliness score was 1.5. Unadjusted 30-day mortality was 1.8%—36 of 3,830 (0.9%) patients in the elective surgery group and 46 of 623 (7.4%) in the nonelective group died.

Loneliness was not linked to 30-day mortality in elective surgery patients (Odds Ratio [OR] 0.46). However, in patients having nonelective surgery, loneliness was associated with higher odds of death at 30 days (OR 1.76). This means the odds of death increased by 76% for every point of increase in the loneliness score.

The researchers say the findings suggest that loneliness may be an important social determinant of postoperative outcomes, particularly in those having nonelective procedures.

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