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Analysis

Pleasant Providers Lessen Patient Pain

By John Commins  
   October 21, 2019

Survey links empathetic clinicians and higher patient pain management, satisfaction scores.

Here's a tip for providers who want their hospital patients to experience less pain. Be nice!

Research presented at the ANESTHESIOLOGY® 2019 annual meeting this week in Orlando analyzed responses from 4,740 adults who were asked about pain management for a variety of illnesses and surgeries during their hospital stay, which averaged 5.3 days with 3.8 blood draws.

Researchers found that 3,882 of the 4,740 patients (82%) answered "always" when asked how often the staff did everything they could to help them with their pain and 3,112 (65%) answered "always" when asked how often their pain was well-controlled.

Patients were also asked to rate from "very poor" to "very good" the courtesy of the person who drew their blood. Those patients who answered "very good" were 390% more likely to have rated their pain management as very good, than those who rated their provider less courteous.

"It's not surprising that a courteous health care provider can improve the patient experience, but we were shocked at just how powerful that factor was," said Mario Moric, MS, lead author of the study and a biostatistician at Rush University Medical Center, Chicago. "We thought the more needle sticks the higher the pain perception, but we found that effect was small. It turns out the experience of pain is much more significantly affected by the attitude of the people treating you."

Patient feedback has shown that blood draws are a major cause of fear and anxiety. Study co-author Asokumar Buvanendran, MD, said the results suggest that if the person drawing blood is empathetic and courteous, the patient's overall pain experience can be improved.

"It's important to continue to improve health care procedures by making them less invasive, but listening to patients and letting them know you are trying to minimize their discomfort also is really powerful and should be a focus for all health care training programs," said Buvanendran, chair of the American Society of Anesthesiologists Committee on Pain Medicine and vice chair of research at Rush University Medical Center.

"Being kind makes a big difference in the patient experience, and that's good for everyone," he said. 

“Being kind makes a big difference in the patient experience, and that's good for everyone.”

John Commins is a content specialist and online news editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.


KEY TAKEAWAYS

Patient feedback has shown that blood draws are a major cause of fear and anxiety.

Rush University researchers say a patient's pain management improves when people drawing blood are courteous and empathetic.


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