In-hospital stress and patient outcomes: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Link to article at PubMed

PLoS One. 2023 Mar 9;18(3):e0282789. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0282789. eCollection 2023.


BACKGROUND: Hospital inpatients are exposed to high levels of stress during hospitalisation that may increase susceptibility to major adverse health events post-hospitalisation (known as post-hospital syndrome). However, the existing evidence base has not been reviewed and the magnitude of this relationship remains unknown. Therefore, the aim of the current systematic review and meta-analysis was to: 1) synthesise existing evidence and to determine the strength of the relationship between in-hospital stress and patient outcomes, and 2) determine if this relationship differs between (i) in-hospital vs post-hospital outcomes, and (ii) subjective vs objective outcome measures.

METHODS: A systematic search of MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsychINFO, CINAHL, and Web of Science from inception to February 2023 was conducted. Included studies reported a measure of perceived and appraised stress while in hospital, and at least one patient outcome. A random-effects model was generated to pool correlations (Pearson's r), followed by sub-group and sensitivity analyses. The study protocol was preregistered on PROSPERO (CRD42021237017).

RESULTS: A total of 10 studies, comprising 16 effects and 1,832 patients, satisfied the eligibility criteria and were included. A small-to-medium association was found: as in-hospital stress increased, patient outcomes deteriorated (r = 0.19; 95% CI: 0.12-0.26; I2 = 63.6; p < 0.001). This association was significantly stronger for (i) in-hospital versus post-hospital outcomes, and (ii) subjective versus objective outcome measures. Sensitivity analyses indicated that our findings were robust.

CONCLUSIONS: Higher levels of psychological stress experienced by hospital inpatients are associated with poorer patient outcomes. However, more high-quality, larger scale studies are required to better understand the association between in-hospital stressors and adverse outcomes.

PMID:36893099 | PMC:PMC9997980 | DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0282789

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