Continuous care and empathic anaesthesiologist attitude in the preoperative period: impact on patient anxiety and satisfaction

Pôle d'Anesthésie Réanimation, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire, Université d'Angers, Angers, France.
BJA British Journal of Anaesthesia (Impact Factor: 4.35). 03/2011; 106(5):680-6. DOI: 10.1093/bja/aer034
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Continuous care (one anaesthesiologist per patient) and anaesthesiologist empathy at the preoperative visit could affect patient anxiety and satisfaction. We tested both unproven issues in a population at increased risk of anxiety and dissatisfaction.
In this single-blinded single-centre study, 136 women undergoing gynaecologic day-care surgery were sequentially randomized into four groups: (i) preoperative visit by an anaesthesiologist with either an empathic or a neutral attitude, and (ii) receiving either continuous or divided care (preoperative visit and anaesthesia performed by two different anaesthesiologists). Preoperative anxiety and wish for information were rated before and after the preoperative visit. Patient appraisal of the anaesthesiologist's attitude and the quality of care provided was obtained in the operating theatre.
An empathic attitude at the preoperative visit significantly improved the perception of both the anaesthesiologist attitude (P<0.001) and the quality of information delivered (P<0.001), compared with a neutral anaesthesiologist attitude. Empathic attitude tended to decrease patient anxiety. In the operating theatre, patients who had the same anaesthesiologist (continuous care) exhibited greater satisfaction levels regarding anaesthesiologist behaviour and quality of care (P<0.001). Principal component analysis confirmed these findings, revealing that an empathic preoperative visit was linked to a reduction in preoperative patient anxiety.
The 'one patient, one anaesthesiologist' model, in addition to ensuring sufficient time for open discussion and questions at the preoperative visit, improved patient satisfaction.

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