A multidisciplinary approach to improve preoperative understanding and reduce anxiety: A randomised study

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BACKGROUNDEmotional factors may influence reception of information provided during informed consent leading to incomplete understanding and reduced satisfaction.OBJECTIVEThis study was designed to test the hypothesis that a multidisciplinary approach could improve understanding of the information provided by the anaesthesiologist and in turn, reduce anxiety.DESIGNA randomised controlled clinical trial.SETTINGVeneto Oncology Institute, Italian comprehensive cancer centre. Recruitment from December 2008 to June 2010.PATIENTSTwo hundred and fifty-one women requiring anaesthesia for breast cancer surgery.INTERVENTIONSWomen undergoing surgery for primary breast cancer were randomly assigned to either the structured anaesthesiology interview group (SAI) or the integrated multidisciplinary psycho-oncological approach (IPA). In the IPA arm, patients underwent an interview with the psycho-oncologist. Subsequently, and prior to preoperative anaesthesia evaluation, the psycho-oncologist informed the anaesthesiologist of the type of communicative strategy to adopt for each individual. In the SAI arm, patients received only the anaesthesiology interview.MAIN OUTCOME MEASURESAnxiety as assessed by State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) questionnaire.RESULTSTwo hundred and fifty-one patients were randomised and 234 analysed: 124 in the IPA arm and 110 in the SAI arm. For both groups, mean anxiety scores, according to the STAI questionnaire, were statistically lower after the anaesthesiology visit than at baseline, with a reduction of 6.5 points for the IPA arm [95% confidence interval (CI) 4.6 to 8.4, P < 0.0001] and 4.7 points for the SAI arm (95% CI 2.6 to 6.7, P < 0.0001). There were no significant differences between the two groups in the mean anxiety score before and after the interview. For highly anxious patients, the STAI score decreased significantly more in the IPA group (10.2 points, 95% CI 7.4 to 13.0) than in the SAI group (6.8 points, 95% CI 3.8 to 9.8), P = 0.024.The information provided during the anaesthesiology visit was correctly understood by more than 80% of patients and was similar in both groups.CONCLUSIONIn breast cancer surgical patients with high levels of preoperative anxiety, a multidisciplinary approach with psycho-oncological intervention proved to be useful at the preoperative anaesthesiology interview.

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