Background: Psychiatric disorders are common in the US and represent a major health disparity but little is known about their impact on surgical management and outcomes in cancer. Objective: The aim of this study was to determine whether rectal cancer patients with psychiatric diagnoses have fewer sphincter-preserving procedures and higher postoperative complications. Methods: Overall, 23,914 patients from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) who underwent surgery for rectal cancer from 2004 to 2011 were identified. Patients with comorbid common psychiatric diagnoses were identified by International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision (ICD-9) codes. Main outcomes were measured by operation performed, length of stay (LOS), postoperative complications, and discharge disposition. Results: Twenty percent of patients had a psychiatric diagnosis, with substance use being the most common psychiatric disorder (63 %). Patients with psychiatric diagnoses were more likely to be younger, White, have lower income, and have Medicaid insurance (p <0.001) than those without. In a logistic regression model, patients with any psychiatric diagnosis were less likely to have sphincter-sparing surgery, controlling for patient sociodemographics, Charlson score, hospital procedure volume, and year (odds ratio 0.77; 95 % CI 0.72–0.83). LOS and postoperative complications were similar among the cohorts. Patients with psychiatric disorders were more likely to have home health care at discharge (p <0.001). Conclusions: Fewer sphincter-sparing procedures were performed on rectal cancer patients with psychiatric diagnoses. However, no significant differences in postoperative complications were observed.
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