Kola, Susanna and Walsh, Jane C. (2009) Reducing Anxiety in Colposcopy Patients: The Effects of Matching Level of Information and Preferred Coping Style. In: 30th International Conference of the Stress and Anxiety Research Society 2009, 16th - 18th July 2009, Budapest, Hungary. (Unpublished)

Preparatory information does not always reduce anxiety in patients scheduled for a stressful medical procedure. This study assessed the effects of information-based interventions presented intra-procedurally and monitoring coping style on distress and anxiety in patients undergoing an invasive diagnostic procedure to examine pre-cancerous cervical lesions. One hundred and fifty five first-time colposcopy patients were randomly assigned to an information-avoidant (relaxation or cognitive distraction), information-high (video colposcopy), or a control condition. Main outcome measures included state anxiety, mood, physiological and observational measures of distress. Psychophysiological measures of anxiety significantly reduced over time, with the highest measures of systolic and diastolic blood pressure (SBP, DBP) and heart rate obtained at baseline. A mixed analysis of variance demonstrated a significant time × information condition × monitoring status interaction on SBP, F(6, 294) = 4.01, p = .001. During colposcopy, low monitors exhibited significantly lower SBP than high monitors in the control condition, and high monitors displayed significantly lower SBP in the relaxation condition and the video colposcopy condition than in the control condition. There were no significant interactions between coping style and level of information on self-report measures of distress, although state anxiety and negative affect was significantly reduced following colposcopy. The results confirm that matching preferred coping style to level of information reduces physiological arousal associated with an invasive medical procedure, but mainly for patients with high monitoring coping style. Low monitors may have greater coping flexibility than high monitors, and may be able to utilise a variety of coping strategies.

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