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    Since medical communication can be perceived as stressful, the assessment of patients' physiological arousal and behavior during anamnesis interviews may lead to a better understanding of doctor-patient interactions. Therefore, the aim of this study was to test physiological arousal and word use in a laboratory anamnesis interview. In total, sixty-five participants with a mean age of 25.0 years were randomly assigned either to an experimental group (n = 35, 65.7% women) in which they underwent an anamnesis interview or to a control group (n = 30, 73.3% women). Physiological arousal was assessed by salivary cortisol, salivary alpha-amylase (sAA), heart rate (HR) and heart rate variability (HRV). Psychological arousal was assessed using the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS). Anamnesis interviews were analyzed using the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count text analysis tool (LIWC). Participants of the experimental group showed an increase of sAA, HR and negative affect (p's ≤.0.05). Moreover, higher cortisol area under the curve with respect to ground (AUCg) was associated with lesser use of positive emotion words during the interview and subsequent higher negative affect (p's <.05). These results indicate that talking about one's own and family's medical history in anamnesis interview induces physiological arousal. Our findings suggest that anamnesis interviews could not only induce higher negative affect, but also induce physiological arousal, underscoring the importance of good doctor-patient communication.


    Sarah C Sturmbauer, Andreas R Schwerdtfeger, Simon Schmelzle, Nicolas Rohleder. A laboratory medical anamnesis interview elicits psychological and physiological arousal. Stress (Amsterdam, Netherlands). 2022 Jan;25(1):57-66

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    PMID: 34935585

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