Simple distraction techniques, such as talking to a nurse, watching a DVD or using stress balls, can help patients to relax during varicose vein surgery and reduce their pain, says a study.
“Undergoing conscious surgery can be a stressful experience for patients,” said study author professor Jane Ogden from the University of Surrey in Britain.
“Our research has found a simple and inexpensive way to improve patients’ experiences of this common and unpleasant procedure, and could be used for a wide range of other operations carried out without a general anesthetic,” Ogden added.
The study involved 398 patients, splitting them into four groups.
For the first group music was played during their surgery, while the second was offered a choice of DVD to watch from a wall-mounted monitor.
In the third group, a dedicated nurse was positioned next to the patient’s head to interact with them throughout the procedure.
In the fourth group, two palm-sized stress balls were given to participants once they were comfortably in place on the operating table.
The group that watched a DVD showed 25 percent less anxiety than those who received treatment as usual (but no differences for pain).
The group that interacted with a nurse showed 30 percent less anxiety and 16% less pain than those who received treatment as usual.
The group that used stress balls showed 18 percent less anxiety and 22 percent less pain than those who received treatment as usual.
However, music did not have any effect on anxiety or pain.
The study was published in the European Journal of Pain.
Hudson, B.F., Ogden, J. and Whiteley, M.S. (2015), Randomized controlled trial to compare the effect of simple distraction interventions on pain and anxiety experienced during conscious surgery. European Journal of Pain. doi: 10.1002/ejp.675