The Center for Perioperative Mental Health is created in direct response to patient needs. Phase 1 of our Collaborative Planning Approach consisted of an interview study with older surgical patients and clinicians with the following goals:

  • Understand barriers to perioperative management of anxiety and depression in older surgical patients
  • Identify preferences and requirements for treatment to help their anxiety and depression
  • Explore the ease of using such treatments in perioperative care

Having access to care from a center like this could have had a major positive impact and might have provided me with the support I so desperately needed around the time of my recent surgery.

Patient Advocate

There is an urgent need to educate clinicians as well as members of the public about the mental and cognitive health needs of older adults undergoing invasive procedures with general anesthesia.

Patient Advocate

Fear and anxiety ..…it makes [patients] afraid after surgery to do things like rehabilitation…of getting injured again…. [even though patients] don’t appear frantic and outwardly anxious doesn’t mean that they’re not inwardly very anxious.

Clinician Participant (Anesthesiologist)

 I think the biggest barriers a lot of times is either not knowing how to help or not easily being able to find the resources.”

Clinician Participant (Pharmacist)

I don’t think we do a very good job of understanding how mental health plays into perioperative care. I think that the biggest thing that we do a poor job managing is fear. Preoperative fear. A lot of our patients, despite the fact that they’re often very stoic, are often very afraid of what’s going to happen to them. I don’t think we do a very good job of evaluating that and trying to help them deal with that.

Clinician Participant (Anesthesiologist)

This study highlighted the combination of cognitive, physical and behavioral challenges affecting the treatment of anxiety and depression symptoms in older adults during the perioperative period.

We concluded that a holisitic approach addressing both behavioral and medication challenges can potentially have a positive impact on this population.