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Keywords:

  • anxiety;
  • complementary therapy;
  • nurses;
  • nursing;
  • relaxation tape;
  • surgical patients

Aim.  This study aims to investigate the effect of a relaxation tape on levels of anxiety in surgical patients.

Background.  Surgery is a stressful event for patients. Because of uncertainty regarding surgery and anaesthesia, patients often experience heightened anxiety and fear.

Design.  A one-group pretest–post-test quasi-experimental design.

Methods.  Samples were taken from surgical patients in a medical centre in northern Taiwan. The patients were given relaxation tapes the day before their scheduled surgery. Tests were conducted before and after patients listened to the tapes. STAI and respiration, pulse and blood pressure were used to collect data measurements on the anxiety level of these patients.

Results.  The average age of 80 patients was 43·14 (SD 17·27) years. After the patients listened to the relaxation tape, their respiration rate dropped from 18·4 (SD 6·9) –17·8 (SD 7·4), pulse rate dropped from 81·9 (SD 33·5) – (SD 33·7), systolic blood pressure decreased from 125·4 (SD 16) mmHg – 121·5 (SD 13·4) mmHg and STAI score dropped from 50·9 (SD 11·1) – 41·1 (SD 9·8). They all showed a significant level of difference (< 0·05). A one-time listen to the tape during the entire hospital stay was the experience of the majority (66·3%) and indicated that the STAI score can be further reduced by increasing the number of tape listening sessions (= 14·1, < 0·001).

Conclusion.  The results show that a relaxation tape can significantly reduce the level of anxiety and vital signs related to anxiety in surgical patients.

Relevance to clinical practice.  The results of this study can provide an empirical basis for nursing treatments. We recommend that relaxation tapes be included in standard of care to alleviate anxiety in surgical patients.