Background and objectives: Patients scheduled for surgeries experience anxiety. Anxiety and depression are the disorders most commonly associated with organic diseases. The Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) does not include items that could be present in organic diseases and in anxiety and depression. The objective of this study was to measure the frequency and the level of anxiety and depression in preoperative patients and in a control group.
Methods: Seventy-nine patients admitted to the Surgical Department of Santa Casa de São Paulo and 56 caretakers answered a questionnaire on socio-demographic data and the HADS.
Results: The evaluation of the symptoms showed that 35 (44.3%) patients and 36 (64.3%) caretakers had anxiety (Fisher Exact test - p = 0.03) and 21 (26.6%) patients and 23 (41.1%) caretakers had depression (p = 0.09). Regarding the impact of the socio-demographic data on the measurement of anxiety and depression, it was only observed that patients that were unemployed had higher anxiety levels.
Conclusions: This study confirmed that the HADS could be used in hospitalized surgical patients. It also showed that patients should be evaluated preoperatively for anxiety and depression, regardless of the presence of severe clinical and/or surgical disorders, because the frequency of patients with anxiety is relevant and they deserve a differentiated approach - at least the administration of tranquilizers before surgery. Caretakers presented significantly higher levels of anxiety. Those people, evaluated in the absence of concomitant clinical problems, probably demonstrated to be exposed to a considerable level of stress, resulting in a higher anxiety state than the patients scheduled for surgeries.