Recordings of Pre-Surgery Meetings Ease Anxieties

For heart patients, practice refreshes memory and increases knowledge, study finds

TUESDAY, April 20, 2010 (HealthDay News) -- Giving people slated for heart surgery recordings of their pre-surgery consultations not only increased their knowledge about the procedure and their health but reduced their anxiety and depression as well, a new study has found.

Researchers at the Royal Glasgow Infirmary, in Scotland, said that anxiety keeps many heart surgery patients from fully absorbing all the information presented to them, which can then interfere with the informed consent process.

Their study included 84 people who were to have coronary artery surgery for the first time. Of that group, 30 people were given a recording of their pre-surgery consultation, which averaged 24 minutes long, and were told they could listen to it whenever they wanted, 25 people were given an 11-minute tape about coronary artery surgery in general, and 29 people were given no recorded material.

Everyone who received the taped consultation said they listened to it. Their average knowledge about their condition and what to expect was found to be higher than that of the group that didn't receive a tape. They also had a greater sense of control over their own health.

"Concerns have been raised that detailed information can cause undue anxiety and distress to patients," the researchers wrote in the study. "However, it has also been shown that a well-informed patient copes more effectively with surgery, and this factor can result in earlier discharge and decreased incidence of psychological problems."

Recordings give people "a chance to listen to information that might have been missed during the consultation and refresh their memory," the researchers wrote. "They also encourage patients to seek clarification of previously imparted information in subsequent encounters with health-care professionals."

The study, published in the April issue of the Archives of Surgery, concluded that adding recorded information to whatever written materials are provided to patients could increase their "recall of information and satisfaction level, particularly in elderly patients."

More information

The Texas Heart Institute has more about heart surgery.

SOURCE: JAMA/Archives journals, news release, April 19, 2010
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