Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Diagnosis uncertainty increases anxiety in patients

Have you ever felt uneasy sitting in a doctor's waiting room or climbed the walls waiting for your test results? That feeling of anxious uncertainty can be more stressful than knowing you have a serious illness, according to a study presented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

"Not knowing your diagnosis is a very serious stressor," said the study's lead author, Elvira V. Lang, M.D., associate professor of radiology at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Mass. "It can be as serious as knowing that you have malignant disease or need to undergo a possibly risky treatment."

Dr. Lang and her colleague, Nicole Flory, Ph.D., studied the stress levels of 214 women scheduled to undergo different diagnostic and treatment procedures. Immediately prior to the procedures, each of the women completed four standardized tests measuring stress and anxiety levels: the State Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), Impact of Events Scale (IES), Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) and Perceived Stress Scale (PSS).

Of the 214 women, 112 were awaiting breast biopsy, a diagnostic procedure to investigate a suspicious lump in the breast; 42 were awaiting hepatic chemoembolization, a treatment for liver cancer; and 60 were awaiting uterine fibroid embolization, a treatment for uterine myoma or benign fibroids.

Breast biopsy patients reported significantly higher levels of anxiety, with an average STAI score of 48, than chemoembolization patients, who had an average STAI score of 26, and fibroid embolization patients, with an average STAI score of 24.

IES scores were not significantly different, but were higher among the breast biopsy patients (average score 26) than the other patient groups (average score 23). Average CES-D scores were 15 for breast biopsy patients, 14 for chemoembolization patients and 12 for fibroid embolization patients. PSS ratings were also highest among breast biopsy patients (average rating 18), compared to fibroid embolization patients (16) and chemoembolization patients (15).

"These results really drive the point home that the distress of not knowing your diagnosis is serious," Dr. Lang said. "We believe that healthcare providers and patients are not fully aware of this and may downplay the emotional toll of having a diagnostic exam."

According to Dr. Lang, simple steps can be taken to alleviate patient stress prior to a procedure. "Training the medical team in how to talk to patients makes a huge difference," she said. "This can diffuse tension right away and can help patients to shape expectations in a more helpful fashion."

Note: Copies of RSNA 2010 news releases and electronic images will be available online at beginning Monday, Nov. 29.

RSNA is an association of more than 46,000 radiologists, radiation oncologists, medical physicists and related scientists committed to excellence in patient care through education and research. The Society is based in Oak Brook, Ill. (

Editor's note: The data in these releases may differ from those in the published abstract and those actually presented at the meeting, as researchers continue to update their data right up until the meeting. To ensure you are using the most up-to-date information, please call the RSNA Newsroom at 1-312-949-3233.

For patient-friendly information on breast biopsy, chemoembolization and uterine fibroid embolization, visit

Linda Brooks | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Diagnoses: When Are Several Opinions Better Than One?
19.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht High in calories and low in nutrients when adolescents share pictures of food online
07.04.2016 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

How nanoscience will improve our health and lives in the coming years

27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

OU-led team discovers rare, newborn tri-star system using ALMA

27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>