Reports from the field: Anxiety poorly managed in hospitalized patients

Anxiety often is poorly managed in patients recovering from a heart attack, new research reports.1

While medical records revealed that nearly 75% of patients in the study had received some sort of treatment for anxiety, symptoms of anxiety were documented on less than half of the patient charts.

"Some people were treated for anxiety even though there was nothing in their charts to suggest they were anxious to begin with," says Susan Frazier, RN, PhD, lead author of the study and associate professor of nursing at Ohio State University.

In the study, patients recovering from a heart attack answered a series of open-ended statement that helped researchers determine how calm, anxious, tense, satisfied, or worried they felt.

They were categorized into four groups based on their scores.

Nearly half of the patients who rated themselves as feeling extremely anxious had not been assessed for anxiety at the hospital. Slightly less than a third of patients who reported no anxiety had been evaluated for anxiety by a clinician.

The charts showed that nearly three-fourths of the participants received treatment for anxiety, but anxiety had been assessed by a clinician only 45% of the time.

"The lack of congruence between how anxious a patient says he feels, his caregiver’s evaluation of that anxiety, and the use of appropriate anxiety management strategies suggest that anxiety management is inconsistent and potentially ineffective," Frazier says.


1. Frazier S, et al. Management of anxiety after an acute myocardial infarction. Heart Lung 2002; 31:399-410.