Influence of gender and anaesthesia type on day surgery anxiety


M. Mitchell: e-mail:


mitchell m. (2011) Influence of gender and anaesthesia type on day surgery anxiety. Journal of Advanced Nursing 68(5), 1014–1025.


Aim.  To investigate the possible influence of gender and anaesthesia type on anxiety prior to day surgery.

Background.  Elective surgery undertaken on a day, short stay or ‘day of surgery’ basis is growing and much emphasis also placed on ‘enhanced recovery’ for in-patient surgery. During such brief episodes preoperative apprehension can be considerable but the opportunity to help reduce anxiety is minimal and formal plans uncommon.

Method.  As part of a larger study, a questionnaire was distributed to 1606 patients undergoing day surgery, with anaesthesia (2005–2007). Participants were requested to return the questionnaire by mail 24–48 hours following surgery, with 674 returned. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics and multivariate analysis of variance.

Results.  Of the total patients 82·4% experienced anxiety on the day of surgery with the wait, anaesthesia and possible pain being common anxiety-provoking aspects. The majority preferred to receive information between 1–4 weeks in advance and participants experiencing general anaesthesia required information at a statistically significantly earlier stage. General anaesthesia patients were statistically significantly more anxious than local anaesthesia patients and desired more information. Female patients were statistically significantly more anxious, anxiety commenced earlier and they preferred to wait with a relative/friend or talk with other patients.

Conclusions.  Anxiety was experienced by the majority of participants but was more prevalent amongst general anaesthesia and female patients. For general anaesthesia patients, a comprehensive level of information may be required a number of weeks prior to surgery and gender differences associated with the preoperative wait may require greater consideration.