Acknowledge and address physical and emotional discomforts in a patient who is anxious without emphasizing the physical complaints to the exclusion of the emotional ones. Focus on understanding the patient’s particular anxieties or fears. Provide feedback and assist in problem solving. Create an atmosphere of concern and acceptance.
Patients experience anxiety for a variety of reasons. A newly diagnosed illness, life changes due to disabilities, and financial concerns are just a few factors that can cause anxiety. How successfully a patient copes with anxiety depends, in part, on previous experiences, the presence of other stressors, the significance of the event causing the anxiety, and the availability of supportive resources. The health care team member can be a support to the patient and can decrease anxiety through effective communication. Communication methods reviewed in this skill assist the health care team member in helping a patient who is anxious recognize factors causing anxiety and how the patient can cope more effectively. There are four stages of anxiety with corresponding behavioral manifestations: mild, moderate, severe, and panic (Box 1).
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Rationale: Appropriate nonverbal behaviors express interest and help to alleviate anxiety.
Rationale: Appropriate techniques and statements provide reassurance and prevent further escalation of anxiety.
Rationale: Pain and discomfort heighten anxiety.
Rationale: Discussing ways to cope with anxiety allows the health care team member to measure the patient’s ability to assume more health-promoting behavior.
Rationale: Evaluating the patient’s ability to discuss factors causing anxiety allows the health care team member to recognize and focus on areas of concern.
Grover, S. and others. (2019). Anxiety and somatic symptoms among elderly patients with depression. Asian Journal of Psychiatry, 41, 66-72. doi:10.1016/j.ajp.2018.07.009
Clinical Review: Loraine Fleming, DNP, APRN, PMHNP-BC, PMHCNS-BC
Published: January 2024
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