Psychiatric co-morbidity is associated with increased risk of surgery in Crohn's disease


Correspondence to:

Dr A. N. Ananthakrishnan, Crohn's and Colitis center, Massachusetts General Hospital, 165 Cambridge Street, 9th Floor Boston, MA 02114, USA.




Psychiatric co-morbidity, in particular major depression and anxiety, is common in patients with Crohn's disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC). Prior studies examining this may be confounded by the co-existence of functional bowel symptoms. Limited data exist examining an association between depression or anxiety and disease-specific endpoints such as bowel surgery.


To examine the frequency of depression and anxiety (prior to surgery or hospitalisation) in a large multi-institution electronic medical record (EMR)-based cohort of CD and UC patients; to define the independent effect of psychiatric co-morbidity on risk of subsequent surgery or hospitalisation in CD and UC, and to identify the effects of depression and anxiety on healthcare utilisation in our cohort.


Using a multi-institution cohort of patients with CD and UC, we identified those who also had co-existing psychiatric co-morbidity (major depressive disorder or generalised anxiety). After excluding those diagnosed with such co-morbidity for the first time following surgery, we used multivariate logistic regression to examine the independent effect of psychiatric co-morbidity on IBD-related surgery and hospitalisation. To account for confounding by disease severity, we adjusted for a propensity score estimating likelihood of psychiatric co-morbidity influenced by severity of disease in our models.


A total of 5405 CD and 5429 UC patients were included in this study; one-fifth had either major depressive disorder or generalised anxiety. In multivariate analysis, adjusting for potential confounders and the propensity score, presence of mood or anxiety co-morbidity was associated with a 28% increase in risk of surgery in CD (OR: 1.28, 95% CI: 1.03–1.57), but not UC (OR: 1.01, 95% CI: 0.80–1.28). Psychiatric co-morbidity was associated with increased healthcare utilisation.


Depressive disorder or generalised anxiety is associated with a modestly increased risk of surgery in patients with Crohn's disease. Interventions addressing this may improve patient outcomes.