Patients in a negative mood can have poorer outcomes in interventional radiology procedures

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Patients who feel scared, distressed or hostile before undergoing an interventional radiology procedure may experience a poor outcome, according to research presented at the Radiological Society of North American Annual Meeting (RSNA) in Chicago in early December.

Nadja Kadom, Acting Associate Professor of Radiology, Emory University School of Medicine, and colleagues at the Boston Medical Center, where Kadom was on the faculty prior to Emory, studied 230 patients who underwent image-guided vascular or kidney interventional radiology procedures in Boston, USA. Before their interventions, they completed the Positive Affect Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS), a questionnaire to assess their mood, which contained 20 adjectives – 10 related to positive affect and 10 related to negative affect.

“Negative affect or negative mood has been found to be associated with undesirable health outcomes such as hypertension, bradycardia (a slow heart rate) and prolonged hypoxia (reduced supply of oxygen),” says Kadom. “We wanted to look at patients undergoing radiological procedures and see whether a negative mood could play a role in negative events occurring.”

On the mood evaluation, negative adjectives included: distressed, upset, scared, hostile, irritable, plus others; while positive adjectives included: interested, excited, proud, inspired, determined and more. Using a five-point rating scale, the study participants (120 women and 110 men) were asked to indicate how they felt in general—on average—based on these terms, not necessarily just before their procedure began.

Kadom and colleagues grouped the patients based on high and low scores for negative affect and high and low scores for positive affect.

“We were surprised to find that between the high negative numbers and the low negative numbers, there was a difference in outcomes,” says Kadom. “Patients with high negative affect had significantly more adverse events than those with low negative affect,” (22% vs. 12%). “There was no significant difference in adverse outcomes for high vs. low positive affect,” (18% vs. 15%).

The researchers determined that negative affect was associated with increased heart rate and blood pressure, as well as decreased cardiovascular reactivity. Participants in this study with high negative affect scores had an increased risk of prolonged hypoxia, hypertensive or hypotensive episodes, prolonged bradycardia and post-operative bleeding.

Also in the study, the effect of high negative affect was independent of high or low positive affect. Since negative affect and positive affect represent different aspects of mood, they can exist independently of each other. As an example, it is possible that a patient is scared (negative affect) of undergoing a procedure, and at the same time, is excited (positive affect) about getting minimally invasive treatment instead of undergoing surgery.

“By using a short questionnaire before an interventional radiology procedure, this study tells us that we may be able to identify patients at risk of having adverse events or poor outcomes in advance of that procedure,” says Kadom. “Our team should then be able to distract negative thinking of patients by talking to them, and by guiding a patient’s thoughts, for example encouraging them to imagine their last great vacation, or assisting in self-guided hypnosis.”
The study was made up of participants ranging in age from 18 to 92 years old, with a mean age of 55.

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