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South Med J. 2013 Apr;106(4):280-4. doi: 10.1097/SMJ.0b013e31828de613.

Role of anxiety in the comfort of nonsedated average-risk screening sigmoidoscopy.

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Bassett Community Army Hospital, Fort Wainwright, AK, USA.



The aim of this prospective study was to assess the role of generalized anxiety disorder in the comfort of nonsedated, average-risk screening sigmoidoscopy.


Patients were asked to complete a screening questionnaire before undergoing average-risk colon cancer screening with nonsedated sigmoidoscopy. The questionnaire included demographic information and a series of Likert-based and visual analog scales designed to assess patient comfort, procedural symptom severity, and satisfaction. The Primary Care Evaluation of Mental Disorders questionnaire was used to assess for generalized anxiety disorder. Comfort levels and postprocedural symptom severity were recorded immediately after the procedure and 1 week postprocedure. χ and t tests were used to analyze the data.


Eighty-one patients were enrolled in the study. Twenty-seven patients tested positive for anxiety (high anxiety), whereas 54 tested negative (low anxiety). There were no differences in anxiety according to sex (P = 0.53), or age (P = 0.32). There was no difference in reaching the splenic flexure between high- and low-anxiety patients (P = 0.15); however, pairwise comparisons revealed patients with high anxiety reported significantly higher levels of abdominal pain after the procedure (P < 0.01) and still recalled higher pain from the procedure 1 week later (P < 0.01) than those patients with low anxiety scores. Furthermore, those patients with high anxiety reported significantly more procedure-related cramping and bloating both immediately after the procedure and again 1 week later (P < 0.01). Finally, patients with high anxiety reported the procedure as being more uncomfortable 1 week later, when compared with low-anxiety patients (P = 0.01).


The level of anxiety correlated directly to pain and discomfort postprocedure and related inversely to the level of satisfaction. Better management of anxiety may lead to better procedural comfort in nonsedated procedures.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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