Study Design: Retrospective cohort review.

Objective: To determine whether higher levels of social support are associated with improved surgical outcomes after elective spine surgery.

Methods: The medical records of 430 patients (married, n = 313; divorced/separated/widowed, n = 71; single, n = 46) undergoing elective spine surgery at a major academic medical center were reviewed. Patients were categorized by their marital status at the time of surgery. Patient demographics, comorbidities, and postoperative complication rates were collected. All patients had prospectively collected outcomes measures and a minimum of 1-year follow-up. Patient reported outcomes instruments (Oswestry Disability Index, Short Form-36, and visual analog scale-back pain/leg pain) were completed before surgery, then at 1 year after surgery.

Results: Baseline characteristics were similar in all cohorts. There was no statistically significant difference in the length of hospital stay across all 3 cohorts, although "single patients" had longer duration of in-hospital stays that trended toward significance (single 6.24 days vs married 4.53 days vs divorced/separated/widowed 4.55 days, P = .05). Thirty-day readmission rates were similar across all cohorts (married 7.03% vs divorced/separated/widowed 7.04% vs single 6.52%, P = .99). Additionally, there were no significant differences in baseline and 1-year patient reported outcomes measures between all groups.

Conclusions: Increased social support did not appear to be associated with superior short and long-term clinical outcomes after spine surgery; however, it was associated with a shorter duration of in-hospital stay with no increase in 30-day readmission rates.

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Published in Global Spine Journal, v. 7, issue 8, p. 774-779.

© The Author(s) 2017

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