The impact of anxiety and depression on lumbar spine surgical outcomes: a Michigan Spine Surgery Improvement Collaborative study

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Journal of neurosurgery. Spine


OBJECTIVE: The presence of depression and anxiety has been associated with negative outcomes in spine surgery patients. While it seems evident that a history of depression or anxiety can negatively influence outcome, the exact additive effect of both has not been extensively studied in a multicenter trial. The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between a patient's history of anxiety and depression and their patient-reported outcomes (PROs) after lumbar surgery.

METHODS: Patients in the Michigan Spine Surgery Improvement Collaborative registry undergoing lumbar spine surgery between July 2016 and December 2021 were grouped into four cohorts: those with a history of anxiety only, those with a history of depression only, those with both, and those with neither. Primary outcomes were achieving the minimal clinically important difference (MCID) for the Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System Physical Function 4-item Short Form (PROMIS PF), EQ-5D, and numeric rating scale (NRS) back pain and leg pain, and North American Spine Society patient satisfaction. Secondary outcomes included surgical site infection, hospital readmission, and return to the operating room. Multivariate Poisson generalized estimating equation models were used to report incidence rate ratios (IRRs) from patient baseline variables.

RESULTS: Of the 45,565 patients identified, 3941 reported a history of anxiety, 5017 reported a history of depression, 9570 reported both, and 27,037 reported neither. Compared with those who reported having neither, patients with both anxiety and depression had lower patient satisfaction at 90 days (p = 0.002) and 1 year (p = 0.021); PROMIS PF MCID at 90 days (p < 0.001), 1 year (p < 0.001), and 2 years (p = 0.006); EQ-5D MCID at 90 days (p < 0.001), 1 year (p < 0.001), and 2 years (p < 0.001); NRS back pain MCID at 90 days (p < 0.001) and 1 year (p < 0.001); and NRS leg pain MCID at 90 days (p < 0.001), 1 year (p = 0.024), and 2 years (p = 0.027). Patients with anxiety only (p < 0.001), depression only (p < 0.001), or both (p < 0.001) were more likely to be readmitted within 90 days. Additionally, patients with anxiety only (p = 0.015) and both anxiety and depression (p = 0.015) had higher rates of surgical site infection. Patients with anxiety only (p = 0.006) and depression only (p = 0.021) also had higher rates of return to the operating room.

CONCLUSIONS: The authors observed an association between a history of anxiety and depression and negative outcome after lumbar spine surgery. In addition, they found an additive effect of a history of both anxiety and depression with an increased risk of negative outcome when compared with either anxiety or depression alone.

PubMed ID



ePub ahead of print

First Page


Last Page