Addressing the mental health of Canadians waiting for elective surgery: a potential positive post-pandemic legacy

Addressing the mental health of Canadians waiting for elective surgery: a potential positive post-pandemic legacy

Can J Surg 2020;63(5):E393-E394 | PDF

Sam M. Wiseman, MD; Trafford Crump, PhD; Eric Cadesky, MDCM; Jason M. Sutherland, PhD

Summary

The impact of waiting for surgery on the mental health of patients usually receives little attention. Because of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the waits for elective surgery have been lengthening, potentially inducing or exacerbating mental health burdens. Provinces’ health systems need to provide better support to assess not only patients’ physical health, but also their mental health, and provide them with timely access to care based on need. A stepped care approach is needed to mitigate negative mental health effects associated with prolonged waits for elective operations. To provide the best care possible, we need to recognize and address both the physical and mental health problems of our waiting patients.


Accepted July 28, 2020

Acknowledgements: The authors acknowledge the contributions of Dr. Alain Lesage to developing concepts in this manuscript.

Affiliations: From the Department of Surgery, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC (Wiseman); the Department of Surgery, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alta. (Crump); the Department of Family Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC (Cadesky); and the Centre for Health Services and Policy Research, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC (Sutherland).

Competing interests: None declared.

Contributors: All authors contributed substantially to the conception, writing and revision of this article and approved the final version for publication.

DOI: 10.1503/cjs.014120

Correspondence to: S. Wiseman, Department of Surgery, University of British Columbia, Vancouver BC, smwiseman@providencehealth.bc.ca