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Clinical Systems Leadership

5 Ways Nurses Can Reduce Patient Anxiety

Everyone has a different reaction to visiting a hospital or clinic. While some patients remain calm and collected, others are fearful and tense. Over the course of their careers, nurses will have to deal with both types of situations. It’s crucial for these health-care providers to be prepared to handle a variety of attitudes and behaviors. Let’s look at five ways clinicians can do just that:

1. Stay calm

It is common for patients to mirror the emotions of those around them. Whether it is a family member or someone on their health-care team, if a person can sense apprehension, they will likely start to feel it too. Therefore, clinicians should remain peaceful and use soothing tones when talking to patients. A reassuring attitude can go a long way in making a person feel more comfortable in an anxiety prone situation. Once everyone is on the same level playing field, the explanation of certain conditions or procedures will seem much less nerve-racking to patients and those around them.

Nurses who seem stressed will likely make their patients feel similarly.

2. Give detailed explanations

The health-care field can be quite unfamiliar for people who are not ingrained in it on a daily basis. It is the clinician’s duty to break down information for patients in a tangible way so as to reduce anxiety even more. To begin, nurses should introduce themselves and their roles as well as any other members of the caregiving team. This will ensure people are comfortable with the level of expertise of those monitoring them.

In addition to getting to know the patient on a more personal level, clinicians should also be sure to explain the purpose for every action taken. What do certain machines do? Why is blood being drawn? Answering these questions will assure people that their health-care team knows what they are doing. Preparing patients on what to expect during their time at the hospital or clinic is also a helpful practice. Clinicians should make sure to answer all the questions patients have. If nurses don’t know the answer, they should find a health-care provider who can give the best explanation.

3. Wear many hats

The role of a nurse is not one-sided. Instead, a clinician is responsible for taking on a number of responsibilities when it comes to patient care. To reduce anxiety in those they treat, health-care providers should wear the following hats, according to The Houston Chronicle:

  • Holistic caregiver: Massage and deep-breathing techniques can soothe an anxious patient if administered by a nurse.
  • Observer: Being in an unfamiliar environment can be overwhelming to a patient. Nurses who dedicate a little extra time to these cases can not only build a more personal connection but could help prevent emergencies like falls, rising blood pressure and depression.
  • Educator: Clinicians can – and should – provide patients with in-depth knowledge on particular conditions and procedures, answering any and all questions.
  • Confidant: It’s common for patients to confide in health-care providers before opening up to family members. One of clinicians’ biggest obligations is to listen. Discussing fears can help nurses provide better care and make the patient feel more comfortable.

A Master’s of Science in Nursing can help clinicians juggle all of these responsibilities in a successful manner.

4. Teach patients to trust themselves

Patient anxiety not only stems from being distrustful of those around them, but also from not trusting themselves. While nurses can take the necessary steps to make people more comfortable with their health-care team, it’s also imperative to help patients learn to have faith in themselves. Clinicians could discuss common signs of anxiety and also teach people to listen to those feelings. Sentiments of nervousness – though sometimes only in people’s heads – could also be signs that health-care providers should pay attention to.

Nurses should instruct patients to listen to their body and make decisions accordingly. The ability to trust themselves will work wonders for people’s morale and overall recovery.

Clinicians should teach patients to trust their own bodies and act accordingly.

5. Highlight physical comfort

Patients, whether children or adults, are worried about the level of pain they will experience during a clinic or hospital visit. As a result, they are more likely to be anxious, and stress levels could increase the longer they receive care. To combat this issue, clinicians should make sure their patients are as physically comfortable as possible. Adding extra pillows to their bed, applying an instant topical anesthetic when drawing blood and being available to talk through specific questions can reassure patients that their experience will be a breeze.

The unfamiliarity that comes with visiting a clinic or hospital can result in high levels of patient anxiety. Luckily, nurses that employ strategies that include utilizing a calm demeanor, stepping into various roles and instilling trust in people can help reduce those stressful feelings.
A Master’s of Science in Nursing from the University of Arizona can give nurses the tools they need to improve their patient relationships and continue to reduce anxiety in those they treat.


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