Pre-Existing Anxiety and Depression in Injured Older Adults: An Under-Recognized Comorbidity With Major Health Implications

Ann Surg Open. 2022 Dec 7;3(4):e217. doi: 10.1097/AS9.0000000000000217. eCollection 2022 Dec.


To compare differences in baseline depression and anxiety screenings between older injured patients with pre-existing diagnoses and those without.

Background: Little is known about the prevalence and impact of psychiatric comorbidities on early postinjury depression and anxiety in nonneurologically injured older adults.

Methods: This was a retrospective post-hoc analysis of data from the Trauma Medical Home, a multicenter randomized controlled trial (R01AG052493-01A1) that explored the effect of a collaborative care model on postinjury recovery for older adults compared to usual care.

Results: Nearly half of the patients screened positive for at least mild depressive symptoms as measured by the Patient Health Questionnaire-9. Forty-one percent of the patients screened positive for at least mild anxiety symptoms as measured by the Generalized Anxiety Disorder Scale. Female patients with a history of concurrent anxiety and depression, greater injury severity scores, and higher Charlson scores were more likely to have mild anxiety at baseline assessment. Patients with a history of depression only, a prior history of depression and concurrent anxiety, and higher Charlson scores (greater medical comorbidity) had greater odds of at least mild depression at the time of hospital discharge after traumatic injury.

Conclusions: Anxiety and depression are prevalent in the older adult trauma population, and affect women disproportionately. A dual diagnosis of depression and anxiety is particularly morbid. Mental illness must be considered and addressed with the same importance as other medical diagnoses in patients with injuries.

Keywords: anxiety; depression; injured; older adult; psychiatric comorbidity; trauma.