6 Effective Methods Doctors can Use to Help Reduce Patient Anxiety

Medically reviewed by

Information for Doctors

5 min read

Key Takeaways

People go to doctors to get relief, treatment, and care. However, for some patients, a visit to the physician can be a stressful and anxiety-inducing situation. Patients awaiting surgery or experiencing hard-to-treat conditions may be visibly nervous in a hospital setting [1]. They also have to deal with long queues and waiting times. Watching other patients in pain can also add to their nervousness. Certain patients also experience white coat syndrome, where their blood pressure increases in the presence of doctors [2]. This can make patients uneasy and apprehensive about their appointment.

When a patient becomes agitated or feels overwhelmed, caregiving may become complicated. Anxious patients may not be completely upfront about their problems, leading to an incorrect diagnosis. Furthermore, they may not continue the treatment or overlook symptoms to avoid revisiting hospitals or clinics. 

While it is common for patients to experience nervousness, stress, and apprehension in a hospital setting, the onus is on doctors and staff to create a patient-friendly environment. A few measures can ensure patients have a pleasant experience. Read on to know more.

Create a welcoming first impression 

The value of the first impression is well-known to all. While patients come to see doctors, they first interact with the clinic/hospital staff. A grumpy or indifferent face will only add to their nervousness. When trained hospital staff offer a warm greeting, patients become more comfortable. When staff members patiently guide patients through various processes with a smile, this can help calm their nerves. Making an effort to know recurring patients' first names can also help build a rapport. This eliminates unfamiliarity, creating a stress-free environment. Studies have shown that elderly patients are more comfortable with doctors who know their first name [3]. Similarly, doctors and staff can introduce themselves to patients. This fosters camaraderie, guaranteeing an increase in patient satisfaction [4].

Optimize your practice to reduce waiting time 

Making anxious patients wait adds to their nerves. The more they wait, the more they see other sick patients. This can overwhelm them, and at times, result in them leaving without meeting the doctor. 

Increasing wait times also result in lower patient satisfaction. Patients perceive it as a sign of mismanagement or improper organization. This can result in lower doctor and hospital ratings, making it a vital performance yardstick. So, hospitals and doctors can make an effort to reduce wait time. This can be done by ensuring timely arrival of all staff and efficient appointment management to avoid double or overbooking. It can also help to tele-consult certain days a week, which also eliminates impatience due to waiting. However, this requires managing each appointment within a set timeline.

how doctors can make patient feel comfortable

Ensure a comfortable and engaging waiting room experience  

A shabby or cluttered waiting room filled with patients does not inspire a calm and orderly atmosphere. This can severely affect patient confidence, making them more nervous. Sitting close to patients and overhearing conversations only adds to anxiety. This can be incredibly stressful if they have to wait for a long time. To avoid this, doctors must have a hand in creating an engaging and stress-free waiting room. Comfortable chairs, clean and bright surroundings, popular reading material, relevant healthcare posters on walls, and soothing music or educational videos playing in the background can all work together to soothe and occupy patients.

Practice empathy with patients 

Impending diagnosis, surgery, and procedures can make patients uneasy and volatile. In such cases, the qualities of patience and empathy can help avoid unnecessary conflicts, resulting in a pleasant patient experience. Offering similar training to hospital and clinic staff is also important. Politeness and care can help when it comes to resolving repetitive doubts calmly. Doctors cab also tackle anxious patients by asking them if they are nervous and how they can help. All this reduces their hesitancy and apprehension and increases their satisfaction.

Simplify complex diagnosis and treatment plans 

Doctors should also remember that patients have zero to no knowledge about health problems. However, too much information can cause confusion and does not help anxious patients. So, doctors must go the extra mile and explain diagnosis and treatment in the simplest way possible. Avoiding jargon or abbreviations will ensure clarity. It is best for doctors to break down the steps of procedures and explain their purpose to the patient. These methods will ensure that the patient knows and understands everything.

Offset tension during patient interactions 

Being personable helps lighten the mood, especially with anxious patients. Asking patients about their daily lives and families can help nervous patients relax. It diverts their mind from the situation at hand, making them comfortable. Furthermore, light conversation and earnest questions foster confidence and transparency. This helps ease patient apprehension, ensuring an honest and transparent discussion. This allows doctors to extract the necessary information, facilitating comprehensive healthcare.

Implementing these measures will help doctors calm nerves and anxiety. This will result in increased patient satisfaction and help in providing comprehensive healthcare.

Published on 22 Mar 2022Last updated on 4 Jan 2023

Please note that this article is solely meant for informational purposes and Bajaj Finserv Health Limited (“BFHL”) does not shoulder any responsibility of the views/advice/information expressed/given by the writer/reviewer/originator. This article should not be considered as a substitute for any medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult with your trusted physician/qualified healthcare professional to evaluate your medical condition. The above article has been reviewed by a qualified doctor and BFHL is not responsible for any damages for any information or services provided by any third party.


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