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  • 1.
    Vigier, Marta
    et al.
    Linköping University, Department of Biomedical and Clinical Sciences, Division of Neurobiology. Linköping University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. Karl Franzens Univ Graz, Austria.
    Thorson, Katherine R.
    Columbia Univ, NY USA.
    Andritsch, Elisabeth
    Med Univ Graz, Austria.
    Schwerdtfeger, Andreas R.
    Karl Franzens Univ Graz, Austria; BioTechMed, Austria.
    An Investigation of Patients and Doctors Autonomic Nervous System Responses Throughout News-Focused Medical Consultations2023In: Health Communication, ISSN 1041-0236, E-ISSN 1532-7027Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Although it is clear that people experience physiological arousal in anticipation of news-focused medical consultations, our knowledge of peoples experiences during and throughout these consultations is scarce. We examine interbeat interval responses (IBI) of patients and doctors during real-life medical consultations to understand how the experiences of both parties change throughout these encounters and whether they differ from each other. We also examine how the type of news delivered affects responses. We measured the IBI responses of patients and their oncologists throughout 102 consultations in which providers delivered news (classified as good, bad, or status quo) to patients about a recent computerized tomography scan. We observed two distinct phases of consultations: an initial "news" delivery phase and a subsequent "information" phase. During the news phase, on average, patients IBI responses rapidly increased-indicating less autonomic arousal over time - whereas doctors responses did not change over time. In contrast, throughout the information phase, on average, both patients and doctors responses remained steady. During the information phase, responses differed based on news type: on average, status quo consultations involved an increase in autonomic arousal, whereas good and bad news consultations involved no changes. Lastly, we observed significant variability in patients responses during both phases. In sum, on average, patients (but not doctors) experience decreases in autonomic arousal while news is being delivered, suggesting that anticipatory distress regarding these consultations wanes quickly. However, our results also indicate that patients experiences vary from one another, and future research should focus on factors explaining this variability.

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