Introduction At the start of the covid-19 pandemic, many invasive diagnostic tests had to be stopped to avoid patients catching covid-19 as a result of attending hospital. Several procedures to reduce COVID transmission have been implemented as services resumed (e.g. COVID testing). Despite this, some patients may still experience what is now called ‘COVID anxiety’. The aim of this study was to monitor satisfaction with covid mitigation measures and anxiety among patients attending colonoscopy following an abnormal screening result.
Methods We surveyed patients who were invited for colonoscopy at St Mark’s Hospital between July 2020 and May 2021. Data on anxiety and worry were collected, 3 days before and after colonoscopy; scales ranged from 6-24 for general anxiety, 0-20 for COVID-anxiety and 1-4 for bowel cancer worry (with higher scores representing greater anxiety for all three measures). Descriptive statistics were used to assess mean pre- and post-procedure anxiety scores. Inferential statistics were used to test for differences in anxiety, before and after colonoscopy. All analyses were performed using SPSS (Ver 27.0).
Results 205 patients (mean age 67 years; 114 males, 91 females; 121 White, 55, South Asian, 27 any other ethnicity; 142 English first language speakers) completed the pre-procedure questionnaire and were enrolled into the study. 89 (43.4%) completed the post-procedure questionnaire and were analysed.
Pre- procedure, mean general anxiety, COVID-anxiety, and bowel cancer worry scores were 10.94, 0.93 and 1.95, respectively. Post-procedure, the general anxiety, COVID-anxiety and bowel cancer worry scores were 8.92, 1.03 and 2.11, respectively. The change in general anxiety (-2.02) was statistically significant (p=0.015), while the changes in COVID anxiety (+0.1) and bowel cancer worry (+0.16) were not (both ps<0.05).
Significant reductions in general anxiety were observed for women (pre- and post-procedure general anxiety scores were: 13.05 vs. 8.33, respectively; p<0.001), White British adults (pre- and post-procedure general anxiety scores were: 11.47 and 8.90, respectively; p<0.001) and adults whose first language was English (pre- and post-procedure general anxiety scores were: 11.49 and 9.08, respectively; p<0.001).The majority of patients were highly satisfied with the covid-measures put in place. There was no association between satisfaction and changes in COVID Anxiety (p<0.05).
Conclusions COVID anxiety was low among people who attended colonoscopy. General anxiety, however, was moderate, although it was reduced following the procedure. General anxiety was not reduced for some groups, including those whose first language is not English, highlighting the need for further research into factors affecting experience in these groups.
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