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Ann R Coll Surg Engl. 1996 Sep;78(5):466-9.

Anxiety in patients with symptomatic breast disease: effects of immediate versus delayed communication of results.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Glenfield General Hospital.


Immediate reporting of fine needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB) specimens has been introduced into many breast clinics; in others, women return to a later clinic to receive the result. This delay in communication of results may lead to elevated anxiety. This study compared anxiety levels in two groups having FNAB. One group received results at the initial clinic visit (n = 51), the other having delayed communication (n = 51). Anxiety was measured using the six-item short form of the Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI-SSF) and was administered before and after each consultation. Initial anxiety was high in both groups. Women with malignant results had higher post-communication anxiety compared with women with benign results. However, within the group with benign results (the vast majority), immediate communication was associated with a significantly greater fall in STAI-SSF scores from before to after the first consultation (U = 587.0; P < 0.02). There was no difference between the immediate and delayed communication among women with a malignant diagnosis (U = 26.0; P = 0.91). These results provide preliminary support for the more widespread introduction of a cytologist into breast clinics to allow immediate communication of results.

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