Twenty-eight patients were investigated psychologically before surgery. The purposes of the study were (1) to discover the nature of preoperative anxiety, and (2) to compare direct questioning with an indirect method. The merits and shortcomings of the two types of assessment emerged. The findings suggest that, in addition to worries about the operation and the anaesthetic, there was concern about leaving the home and family, which was accentuated by lack of communication and contact with hospital staff, including the surgical team. Pain was found to have a variety of implications including loneliness. These and other findings are discussed in relation to psychological theories.
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