The Misericordia Health Centre Cataract Comfort Study


Canadian Journal of Ophthalmology. Journal Canadien D'ophtalmologie




BACKGROUND: All surgery provokes various degrees of anxiety for patients. The environment leading up to surgery can affect anxiety levels. We performed a prospective randomized study to compare environmental factors around the time of cataract surgery in order to identify interventions that would minimize stress for patients. METHODS: Patients scheduled to undergo cataract surgery at a university-affiliated hospital in Winnipeg were randomly assigned to 1) receive orally administered lorazepam or a placebo before surgery; 2) listen to relaxing music through headphones or routine background noise before surgery; 3) walk (or go by wheelchair if unable to walk) to the operating room or go by stretcher; and 4) listen to relaxing music through headphones or routine background noise during surgery. Randomization for part 1 was double blind; for parts 2 and 3 the surgeon and anesthetist were blinded, but the patient was not. Patients were asked to rate their anxiety, sedation, nausea and pain on arrival at the preoperative area, about 30 minutes after arrival, on arrival in the operating room and on arrival in the postoperative area, on a visual analogue scale graded from 0 ("None" [or "Wide awake" in the case of sedation]) to 10 ("Worst possible" [or "Asleep" in the case of sedation]). Patient satisfaction and willingness to repeat the exact same form of treatment were also rated. RESULTS: Of the 19 surgeons in the department 18 agreed to participate; I withdrew during the study. Data were collected for 144 patients aged 26 to 93 years. Anxiety was highest on arrival at the institution and decreased progressively thereafter. Oral sedation and listening to music before surgery were associated with decreased anxiety and increased levels of sedation (p = 0.002). Walking to the operating room provided no benefit over going by stretcher. Listening to music through headphones during surgery was not accepted by many patients and, when used, negatively affected the surgeon's assessment of the patient's ability to cooperate. Surgeons reported movement more often among patients who received oral sedation than among those who did not (chi2 = 0.01). Levels of pain and nausea were extremely low in all patients, and satisfaction was very high. Patients who received regional local anesthesia had less pain and higher satisfaction than those who received topical anesthesia. Willingness to repeat the same treatment was extremely high. INTERPRETATION: For patients undergoing cataract surgery, efforts should be directed toward reducing anxiety on arrival at the institution, when it is highest, and not just during surgery. Oral sedation and listening to music before surgery appear to be beneficial. Listening to music through headphones during surgery was not found to be advantageous.

Music and Health Institute Terms

Anxiety Scales; Anxiety; Hospital Setting; Music Listening; Music Medicine; Nausea; Pain Management and Control; Pain Score or Rating; Pain; Patient Satisfaction; Postoperative Pain; Postoperative Patients; Recorded Music Listening; Self-Report Measures; Stress; Surgery; Surgical Patients; Vision Disorders

Indexed Terms

Administration, Oral; Elderly; Elderly; Anesthesia, Local; Anxiety; Cataract Extraction; Double-Blind Method; Hypnotics and Sedatives; Lorazepam; Manitoba; Outpatients; Pain Measurement; Postoperative Pain; Patient Satisfaction; Prospective Studies; Stress, Physiological

Study Type

Randomized Controlled Trial; Quantitative Methods


Ophthalmology | Surgery

PubMed ID


Document Type