- •A physician phone call during the waiting period mitigates patient anxiety/distress
- •Most participants who received the physician call reported it to be helpful
- •Most participants who received the physician call reported a decrease in anxiety/distress
Can an empathic physician phone call in the interval between embryo transfer and first serum human chorionic gonadotrophin measurement decrease anxiety and distress amongst patients undergoing IVF?
This was a randomized controlled trial at a single academically-affiliated fertility centre including patients aged 18–43 undergoing their first embryo transfer with autologous fresh or euploid cryopreserved embryos following preimplantation genetic testing for aneuploidies (frozen embryo transfer, FET/PGT-A). After embryo transfer, participants were randomized to a 5-minute scripted phone call (intervention) from a single physician 3–4 days after embryo transfer or to routine care. The primary and secondary outcomes included were change in State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) and Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) scores from the start of IVF stimulation to 8–9 days after embryo transfer, respectively.
A total of 231 participants (164 fresh, 67 FET/PGT-A) were randomized to intervention (n = 116) or routine care (n = 115). While mean STAI and HADS scores increased in both groups, the intervention group experienced lower mean increases than the routine care group for both the STAI (3.3 [0.97] versus 7.8 [1.10], respectively; P = 0.002) and the HADS (0.3 [0.44] versus 2.4 [0.53], respectively; P = 0.003). Most participants in the intervention group found the call helpful (91.4%) and reported that it decreased distress and anxiety (81%).
A brief empathic phone call from a physician during the waiting period resulted in significantly lower self-reported levels of patient anxiety and distress. As the intervention in this study averaged 5 min, implementing this in clinical practice would not be onerous and may ease the distress associated with the waiting period.
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Jaimin S Shah, MD, is a Clinical Fellow in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center/Harvard Medical School and Boston IVF. He completed his medical school and residency at the McGovern Medical School in Houston, Texas. His research interests include mental health and perinatal outcomes.
A brief empathic physician phone call during the waiting period resulted in significantly lower self-reported levels of patient anxiety/distress. As the intervention used in this study averaged 5 min of physician time, implementing this in clinical practice would not be onerous and may ease the distress associated with the waiting period.
Published online: May 05, 2022
Accepted: April 29, 2022
Received in revised form: April 22, 2022
Received: November 30, 2021Declaration: The authors report no financial or commercial conflicts of interest.
© 2022 Published by Elsevier Ltd on behalf of Reproductive Healthcare Ltd.