Preoperative anxiety in ambulatory surgery: The impact of an empathic patient-centered approach on psychological and clinical outcomes

Patient Educ Couns. 2016 May;99(5):733-8. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2015.11.016. Epub 2015 Nov 26.


Objective: This study aims to evaluate the influence of an empathic patient-centered approach on preoperative anxiety and surgical outcomes in ambulatory surgery patients.

Methods: A sample of 104 patients undergoing general ambulatory surgery was randomly assigned to the intervention (IG) and the control (CG) groups. Before surgery, the IG received personalized information through an empathic patient-centered interview. The CG received standardized information on surgical procedures. Anxiety was assessed before and after the preoperative interview and after the surgery. Wound healing, post-surgical recovery and satisfaction with the quality of preoperative information were assessed after the surgery.

Results: The two groups were identical at baseline regarding anxiety, socio-demographic and clinical characteristics. After the patient-centered intervention, the IG showed lower levels of preoperative anxiety (p<0.001) and pain (p<0.001), better surgery recovery (p<0.01) and higher levels of daily activity (p<0.001) and of satisfaction with the information received (p<0.01) than the CG. The IG also showed better wound healing (tissue type, p<0.01; local pain, p<0.01).

Conclusion: An empathic patient-centered intervention can reduce preoperative anxiety and increase surgical recovery, wound healing and patient satisfaction.

Practice implications: This approach is applicable in pre-surgical interviews and can potentially be used in the routine care of various surgical contexts.

Keywords: Ambulatory surgery; Empathic patient-centered approach; Preoperative anxiety; Surgical outcomes; Surgical wound healing.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ambulatory Surgical Procedures / nursing
  • Ambulatory Surgical Procedures / psychology*
  • Anxiety / prevention & control*
  • Communication
  • Empathy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain, Postoperative / prevention & control
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods*
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Patient-Centered Care*
  • Preoperative Care / methods*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Stress, Psychological / prevention & control
  • Treatment Outcome