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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Dermatology Online Journal

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A review of non-pharmacologic approaches to enhance the patient experience in dermatologic surgery


Efforts to increase patient comfort by minimizing pain and anxiety have been shown to improve clinical outcomes, reduce pain thresholds, decrease analgesic requirements and complication risk, strengthen the physician-patient relationship, and increase overall patient satisfaction. Patients also have a strong preference for patient-centered communication and educational discussion with physicians. In recent years, the increasing emphasis on patient experience scores as a metric for quality care has had significant implications for physician practice and has reinforced attempts to provide more patient-centered care. Though different pharmacologic agents and techniques have been extensively reviewed in the dermatologic literature, there have been few studies of non-pharmacologic strategies for improving patient-centered care. This evidence-based review describes alternative techniques that have been suggested for use in dermatologic surgery. Mechanoanesthesia, cold therapy, verbal and audiovisual distraction, music, optimal needle insertion methods, hypnosis and guided-imagery, perioperative communication, and educational strategies have been reported to improve the patient experience in dermatologic surgery. These interventions are often cost-effective and easy to implement, avoid medication side effects, and serve as adjunct approaches to enhance patient comfort. This review examines the corresponding evidence for these nonpharmacologic strategies to provide a clinical resource for the dermatologic surgeon seeking to optimize the patient experience.

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