If your health care provider is nice, you’ll feel less pain

In a new study, researchers found having blood drawn by a courteous health care provider can really take the sting out of those procedures.

In fact, an empathetic provider – one who asks about patients’ previous experiences with needles and takes their preferences into account – could make all the difference when it comes to pain management.

The research was conducted by a team from Rush University.

Repetitious blood draws are often a significant source of anxiety and concern and therefore a large part of the pain experience.

In the study, the researchers set out to assess whether more blood draws would increase the pain experience and if health care worker courteousness would ease the discomfort of a higher number of needle sticks.

They analyzed responses from 4,740 adult patients about their experience when they were hospitalized, specifically two questions about pain control and one statement about the courtesy of the person who drew their blood.

Patients were hospitalized for a variety of reasons including illness, surgery, etc. The average length of stay was 5.3 days and the average number of blood draws was 3.8.

The team found patients in the study were 390% more likely to say their pain was well-controlled when the person taking their blood was courteous.

It’s not surprising that a courteous health care provider can improve the patient experience, but we were shocked at just how powerful that factor was.

This means the experience of pain is much more strongly affected by the attitude of the people treating the patient.

The results suggest that while getting blood drawn several times a day can be unpleasant if the person drawing blood is empathetic, the patient’s overall pain experience can be improved.

The team says it’s important to continue to improve health care procedures by making them less invasive, but listening to patients and letting them know you are trying to minimize their discomfort also is really powerful and should be a focus for all health care training programs.

Being kind makes a big difference in the patient experience, and that’s good for everyone.”

The lead author of the study is Mario Moric, M.S., a biostatistician at Rush University Medical Center, Chicago.

The study was presented at the ANESTHESIOLOGY® 2019 annual meeting.

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