Pre-op anxiety in patients is a common medical concern that is often ignored. Reducing preoperative anxiety is a key indicator of postoperative outcomes. When a patient feels anxious, their hormone levels become elevated, and they can wake up from surgery feeling increased levels of pain. If it is addressed and taken seriously, an anesthesia provider will typically employ pharmacological interventions such as midazolam, diazepam, ketamine or fentanyl prior to wheeling a patient back to the operating room. Therapeutic touch offers a natural alternative to help patients relax as they’re waiting for surgery.
Therapeutic touch is a contemporary interpretation of several ancient laying-on-of-hands healing practices that was developed by Delores Krieger, PhD, RN, professor emeritus of nursing at New York University, and Dora Kunz, an energy healer, in the 1970s. It is a holistic, evidence-based therapy that incorporates the intentional and compassionate use of universal energy to promote balance and well-being and represents a consciously directed process of energy exchange during which the practitioner uses the hands as a focus to facilitate the process. This method works by altering the body’s energy, nervous system and associated physiological processes to reduce feelings and symptoms of anxiety. Therapeutic touch does involve gentle touching. In a preoperative context, it can be integrated as part of the preoperative assessment and evaluation, as a component of preoperative education and preparation and as needed or requested by a patient.