Objectives. The psychophysiological model of adjustment to surgery predicts associations between (1) heightened pre-operative state-anxiety and intra-operative neuroendocrine responses, (2) neuroendocrine responses and complications; and (3) heightened pre-operative state-anxiety and post-operative recovery. The present study examined these associations.
Methods. Participants were 39 patients (mean age 71.9±6.1 years) undergoing elective carotid endarterectomy surgery under local anaesthesia. In the week prior to surgery, patients completed baseline measures of physical and mental functioning using the MOS 36-item Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36). In addition to this, they undertook a 24-hour urine save to measure cortisol and catecholamines. Measures of state-anxiety were completed on the evening prior to surgery. A second 24-hour urine save was started at the time of anaesthetic induction. Follow-up measures of physical and mental functioning were completed 1 month following surgery. All complications were recorded during hospitalization.
Results. There was a significant negative association between pre-operative state-anxiety and intra-operative cortisol (r =−.52, p ≤.001). Using hierarchical regression analysis, pre-operative state-anxiety accounted for 10% of the variance in intra-operative cortisol responses after controlling for medical and demographic factors. There were no significant associations between neuroendocrine responses and complications. Pre-operative state-anxiety was a significant determinant of poorer mental functioning following surgery, explaining 10% of the variance in scores after adjusting for baseline mental functioning.
Conclusions. Results from this study show increasing pre-operative anxiety to be associated with lower intra-operative cortisol responses and poorer mental functioning 1 month following surgery.