When Health’s at Stake, Waiting Is Hardest Part – NYTimes.com

A good piece on the stress of the waiting period for test results, and how instant access may change the nature of the stress from waiting to hearing a result that one cannot put in context.

I know we were very anxious waiting for my diagnosis of lymphoma, which of course changed to more worry once I knew that I had a particularly aggressive form. Quote:

The impact of waiting for test results on patient anxiety is significant. It has been studied in breast cancer biopsy patientsinfertility patients andpatients undergoing genetic testing, among others. Stress alone, these studies show, can affect recovery time and exacerbate side effects from medications. The psychological toll in households can also be harsh, especially among family members with clashing coping styles — if, say, one person has an optimistic bent, while the other tends to presume the worst. (e.g., the situation in many families!)

As noted earlier, while my preference is towards direct access to test results, this is easier when one is already an informed patient (e.g., I now can read blood tests, scan results and the like as I have developed understanding and knowledge over the past 3 years what they mean in my situation). However, for a new diagnosis, interpretation and context is key, and scurrying off to Google and the like can only increase anxiety levels. Quote:

“It’s empowering for patients,” Dr. [Jason] Poston said. “But anything abnormal shows up red and bold. Some of those results may be due to chance. Some of them are not suggestive that you have a disease. So you run the risk of anxiety either with too little or delayed information, or with free access to all the information, because it can overwhelm you.”

When Health’s at Stake, Waiting Is Hardest Part – NYTimes.com.


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