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Br J Nurs. 2009 Apr 9-22;18(7):416-9.

Managing anxiety in the elective surgical patient.

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Surgery and Orthopaedics, Clatterbridge Hospital, Merseyside.


Patients coming into hospital can suffer a great deal of anxiety--Mathews et al (1981) suggested patients who undergo surgery experience acute psychological distress in the pre-operative period. These fears manifest themselves as uncertainty, loss of control and decreased self-esteem, anticipation of postoperative pain, and fear of separation from family (Egan et al, 1992; Asilioglu and Celik, 2004). As technical advances and improved anaesthetic techniques become available to the NHS, the ability to offer day surgery to a wider patient population is increasing. In fact Bernier et al (2003) and Elliott et al (2003) have suggested that 60% of future operations will be day procedures. This means as health-care professionals, nurses will have shorter time available not only to identify patients who may be experiencing anxiety, but also to offer them the support they need to cope with the surgery. Anxiety can have a profound effect on patients--it affects them in a variety of ways, from ignoring the illness, which could have a serious impact on the patient's life, to the constant demand for attention which can take the nurse away from the care of other patients on the ward (Thomas et al, 1995). Recently, there has been increasing interest in the possible influences of properative anxiety on the course and outcome of surgical procedures and the potential benefits of anxiety-reducing interventions (Markland et al, 1993). Caumo et al (2001) suggested that pre-operative management of a patients anxiety would be improved if health-care professionals had more knowledge about the potential predictors of pre-operative anxiety.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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