Evaluation of knowledge and anxiety level of patients visiting the colorectal pelvic floor clinic

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ObjectiveDiscussing defaecating disorders is difficult for patients and many view anal physiology investigations (ultrasound, manometry, electromyography and pudendal nerve studies) as distasteful. This pilot study sought to assess whether present information sheets supplied to patients and the visit to the colorectal Pelvic Floor Clinic itself influenced patients' knowledge and anxiety.Patients and methodsThirty Pelvic Floor Clinic patients from Auckland City Hospital were included. Each patient filled in a questionnaire before and after the clinic. This included objective questions about their knowledge of the structure and function of the pelvic floor and satisfaction with and understanding of the information sheet. Both visual analogue scale (VAS) and multiple choice questions (MCQ) were used. Their subjective and objective knowledge were compared. Anxiety was assessed on a visual analogue anxiety scale (VAAS). Results were expressed as VAS scores or percentage correct and relationships were tested using Fisher's Exact test and paired T-test.ResultsSubjective knowledge increased in 93% of the patients. The doctor's explanation led to a greater increase in subjective knowledge than the information sheet (35/100 mm, P < 0.001 and 10/100 mm, P = 0.01, respectively). Subjective improvement in knowledge did not however, translate into an increase in objective knowledge (P = 0.63). The information sheet was read by 87% of the patients. The information sheet had reduced anxiety only in 23% of the patients and increased in 10%. Anxiety levels were not significantly influenced by the information sheet, but reduced significantly by the clinic visit in 87% of patients (P < 0.001). The mean anxiety level reduced from 44/100 to 12/100 after the clinic visit.ConclusionAnxiety levels are high in those visiting the Pelvic Floor Clinic. It appears that it is the interaction with the doctor that has a profound influence on anxiety levels and subjective knowledge rather than written information.

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