Press Release

March 09, 2022
1 min read

Poll: Recovery, costs among concerns older adults have about scheduling elective surgery


Press Release

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Despite high postoperative satisfaction rates, most older adults reported concerns about potential pain and discomfort in deciding whether to have elective surgery, according to the University of Michigan’s National Poll on Healthy Aging.

In August of 2021, Preeti Malani, MD, MSJ, MS, and members of the National Poll on Healthy Aging team at the University of Michigan, queried a national sample of adults aged 50 to 80 years about their decision-making on elective surgery in the past 5 years. Among respondents, 18% considered joint surgery, 12% considered eye surgery, 10% considered abdominal surgery, 9% considered cosmetic surgery and 7% considered lower extremity surgery.

Other concerns included exposure to COVID-19 (46%), time off from work (46%), having someone care for them (34%), transportation (21%) and inability to care for someone else. Data were derived from

The greatest concern for older adults considering elective surgery was pain or discomfort, reported in 64% of respondents. Other concerns included difficulty with recovery (57% of respondents), out-of-pocket costs (46%), exposure to COVID-19 (46%), time off from work (46%), having someone care for them (34%), transportation (21%) and inability to care for someone else (17%).

Of respondents, 65% had surgery within the 5-year timeframe; 24% planned to have the surgery in the future; and 11% reported no plans to proceed with surgery. Among those who underwent surgery, 67% were “very satisfied” with the outcome.

Jeffrey Kullgren, MD, MS, MPH, poll associate director, stressed the importance of patient-physician communication, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“If your physician is telling you to consider, or strongly consider, having an operation now for a health issue, and you have concerns, voice them,” Kullgren said in the release. “Seeking health care has been safe throughout the pandemic, but now that rates of cases are dropping, those who hesitated in 2020 and 2021 are getting scheduled for care they postponed. It’s important to act now to secure a surgery date and use the time before it to prepare.”