It has been proven in several surveys that feeling anxious affects the condition before and after surgery. It will therefore be important to work on it to improve the patient’s condition and speed up his recovery.
Various techniques have been shown to be useful in dealing with fear and the feeling of anxiety in general, adapted according to the age of the person being treated and their characteristics.
In this article, we discuss the effect of patient anxiety on surgery and see various tips on how to deal with anxiety before surgery.
Effects that may result from surgery
Surgery is considered to be a stressful event for the individual because it is an unpredictable event that we do not know with absolute certainty what the end result will be. Faced with an operation, the patient also has the impression of losing control of himself, because the surgery is not dependent on it, so it is very likely that anxiety may appear which will affect the management of the operation and subsequent recovery.
It has been observed that the optimal degree of concern for facing an intervention is moderate, as if the concern is very low, patients tend to be less collaborative and more irritable and angry, and vice versa, very high levels can lead to the development of pathological fears and lead the person to be also less involved in the subsequent care process.
In this way, it will be very important to assess and take into account the emotional and psychological state of the patient and his thoughts on the operation before proceeding with the operation, as this will ensure that the process is not so negative or stressful and subsequent recovery is better, showing the most collaborative subject.
How to deal with anxiety before an operation?
As we have seen, anxiety will affect post-intervention recovery; for this reason, it is essential to treat it and keep it in mind before performing any surgery. In this regard, we look at various tips and strategies to help patients cope with anxiety before an operation.
1. Consider the different types of patients
Not all people benefit equally from different anxiety management techniques and, as a result, the psychological intervention is carried out in a personalized way.
One of the characteristics to be evaluated is whether the subject has sensitizing traits, i.e. if he is an anxious and vigilant person in the face of feelings of pain or, on the contrary, is repressive (those who deny stress and avoid any thought about it). As for the patients with the first type of shooting, by carrying out a study which consisted in watching films with or without information of the intervention, we saw that these obtained positive results by watching the tape; on the other hand, if the repressors only saw the tape once, they were more worried than if they did not see it.
Another variable to consider is the typical coping style of each individual. We have seen that there are patients who seek information on surgery, and it is they who will benefit from receiving information and will thus be less anxious. On the other hand, there are other so-called “avoidant” people in front of whom, in order to ensure that anxiety does not increase or decrease much, it is advisable not to give them too much information, or not to give them too much information. give only the essential information. of the intervention.
In the same way depending on whether doctors need the patient to be more or less active during the operation, one or the other style of confrontation will be better. When it is important for the patient to intervene, the active style of the subject is beneficial; on the contrary, in cases where less collaboration is required, better results will be obtained if you remain passive in applying distraction strategies for anxiety.
Finally, another aspect that must be evaluated by the patient is the degree of anxiety. It has been observed that patients with less anxiety will benefit more from receiving more information about the procedure; on the other hand, faced with those who have a higher anxiety trait, it will be better to provide them with the necessary information without going beyond them.
2. Empower the patient
In a study which was carried out with patients who would be operated, it was observed that a subjects who received information about pain they might feel and who learned breathing techniques improved their anxiety, needed fewer pain relievers and were discharged from the hospital earlier.
Thus, we have seen that there are two types of information which are the most effective in improving the patient’s condition. One of these types is to provide knowledge about the surgical procedure i.e. raise awareness of what the intervention will look like, what will happen before and after, where the procedure will be performed, what further treatment you will receive, how much recovery time will be estimated …
The second type of information that has been found useful is to provide knowledge about the sensations you will have, how you are likely to feel before and after the operation. In this way, we try to reduce the uncertainty.
Being able to express yourself can help reduce your anxiety, to tell how you are feeling, what your worries and fears are so that you can ask questions, reduce the degree of uncertainty and receive professional support, because as we mentioned, anxiety makes it so difficult taking charge of the operation. recovery.
3. In case of very intense anxiety, you should consult a psychologist
The doctor will provide you with the information you need to know about the operation, provide you with personalized treatment and adapt your service to the type of patient.
But if the anxiety does not decrease, and this is very high and detrimental to the procedure that will be performed, you should be referred to a psychologist in order to work more specifically on this anxiety and to be able to train in more precise techniques to reduce it, such as relaxation, psychoeducation, cognitive restructuring …
Emotional preparation for surgery in young children
Children have different characteristics or abilities than adults, for this reason it will be necessary to adapt the preparation and manage the anxiety, before a future intervention. In this way, we also ensure that the first medical experiences are not negative, thus increasing the possibility that the attitude of the little ones towards future treatments is not bad.
It is proven that the information we provide must be tailored to the age of the patient, so that the patient can have a good understanding and can truly benefit from the process. Thus, in the youngest the information of the intervention is given in a very general way, by making it as fun as possible and by showing the different instruments used by the doctor (the most precise information is given to their parents).
As the child grows, the amount of knowledge and the specification of information given to him increases.therefore in adolescence, the same variables which are considered with adults will already be taken into account.
Several studies have shown that play benefits children to better understand the pathology and helps them prepare emotionally for different medical interventions. Complementarily, we have also seen thatBuilding a relationship of trust between the child and the professionals who will be treating you can help reduce fear and anxiety..
Different procedures have been used to treat anxiety in children; for example the technique of emotional imagination was applied, which implies that the child imagines a hero to help reduce anxiety. Another intervention method for overcoming anxiety before surgery relies on muscle relaxation and breathing training supplemented by child-friendly images, distraction and self-instruction strategies to guide stressful situations.
Finally, another intervention that has been shown to be effective in minors is film modeling. This procedure consists of showing a film on the child showing the stay of a minor at the clinic from entry to discharge. At first this kid feels anxious, but throughout filming he was shown ways to cope and techniques to reduce it. Despite the benefits observed with this procedure, it has been shown that it is not recommended when the intervention is imminent, taking place on the same day, because the child will not have time to fully understand the information.
Likewise, it will be important to introduce the parents to the procedures we perform with the children, as they will probably also be worried about the future operation and will have to be ready to act as support for the children.