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Respiration. 2016;92(6):380-388. Epub 2016 Oct 21.

Effect of Verbal Empathy and Touch on Anxiety Relief in Patients Undergoing Flexible Bronchoscopy: Can Empathy Reduce Patients' Anxiety?

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Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea.



Patients undergoing flexible bronchoscopy usually experience anxiety before and during the procedure.


We performed this study to investigate whether verbal empathy and intentional touch from a bronchoscopist could reduce anxiety in patients undergoing flexible bronchoscopy.


We conducted a prospective randomized trial in a university-affiliated hospital. Participants were randomly assigned to one of the following groups: a control group, a verbal empathy group, or a verbal empathy and touch group. The staff pulmonologist performing bronchoscopy expressed verbal empathy and used touch by speaking to the patient (using predefined short statements) and making eye contact, and by laying his/her left hand on the patient's right shoulder. We assessed the level of patient anxiety with a visual analog scale before and after the intervention.


Participants were 267 patients with a median age of 65 years; 62.2% were men. Although there were no differences in changes in anxiety between the three groups, subgroup analysis of the visual analog scale including participants with higher baseline anxiety (empathy and touch group participants with anxiety ≥60 mm; empathy group and empathy and touch group participants with anxiety ≥70 mm) showed a larger reduction in anxiety than the control group.


Verbal empathy and touch given by a bronchoscopist before bronchoscopy reduced anxiety in patients with high baseline anxiety levels.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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