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Assessment and Management of Preoperative Anxiety

      Summary

      Background

      Preoperative anxiety has the potential to alter the dynamics of an elective procedure and has been shown to detrimentally affect patients both cognitively and physiologically. If mismanaged, it can lead to essential procedures being postponed or canceled, delay postoperative recovery, and increase patients' requirements for medical intervention postoperatively. These outcomes have harmful implications both clinically and economically. Our primary objective was to evaluate the levels of anxiety patients experience immediately before elective otorhinolaryngologic procedures. Our secondary outcome was to assess the subjects' views on potential management strategies to tackle their anxiety.

      Methods

      This is an observational cross-sectional project evaluating 53 patients who were selected consecutively from a list of elective otorhinolaryngologic procedures. All procedures were to be completed under general anesthetic, and all patients had received the same preoperative assessment preparation. 29 male and 24 female patients were included, aged between 19 and 76 years (mean 45). The Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory was used to assess preoperative anxiety directly before the otorhinolaryngologic procedure. The Service Improvement questionnaire was used to assess whether patients would favor the introduction of anxiety-reduction measures.

      Results

      There was neither a significant increase in patient anxiety levels preoperatively (P = 0.37) nor a significant increase in anxiety levels preoperatively when results were stratified according to patient gender and age (P = 0.45 and P = 0.27). 54% of the patients felt that their anxiety would have been reduced if they had read a procedural information leaflet, and 22% felt it would have been reduced if they had received preoperative behavioral training. 17% of the patients wanted more information from the surgical team. However, 12% of the patients would have liked less information from the surgical team preoperatively.

      Conclusions

      Patients did not have a significant increase in their anxiety levels preoperatively. On the basis of our findings, we will work to improve the information we provide to patients preoperatively and to identify patient subgroups that require additional preoperative support.

      Key Words

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