Seeing the doctor? Scientists say you should MEDITATE before you go in

Seeing the doctor? Scientists say you should MEDITATE in the waiting room ‘because it will help you relax and pay more attention to the advice’

  • People often ‘too tense’ to take on board important health advice from doctor 
  • Researchers advise meditating or listening to calming music in the waiting room 
  • They found relaxed people retained more information about various conditions

If you’re heading to see your doctor today, you should think about meditating in the waiting room.

Scientists claim meditation, or listening to music on your phone, will make you relax and take on medical advice easier.

They say the anxiety, shame or fear felt before an appointment limits the amount of information patients take on board to ‘one or two’ key details.

Following a diagnosis, health advice often goes over patient’s heads as they are too tense to process the information, researchers said.

But breathing exercises can alleviate negative feelings and bolster your ability to pay attention and retain information, the experts found.

Some patients feel shame, anxiety or fear immediately before seeing their doctor, making them too tense to take on health advice, researchers say

Scientists advised meditating or listening to calm music in the waiting room, rather than watching TV or using a mobile phone.

University of Michigan researchers, who led the project, analysed results from four studies involving 1,450 adults who went to see their doctor.

Some participants meditated or listened to audio that instructed breathing exercises and relaxation, while others listened to historical information. 

After completing the listening task, all participants read medical information about flu, cancer, HIV, herpes and gonorrhea.

The volunteers were then quizzed on the information they had read about the health conditions. 

Relaxed participants reported paying more attention to key details, according to the study published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

The meditation created a positive, low arousal affect, which enabled them to retain the information, the scientists said.

Lead author Koji Takahashi said: ‘An intense negative emotion can lead to a patient to focus on only one or two pieces of information and gloss over other important details from health messages.’ 

Co-author Dr Allison Earl added: ‘A negative affect drives attention away from unpleasant or threatening information.

‘This doesn’t mean you won’t be scared or embarrassed in the doctor’s office, but you’ll be able to handle the information better by being in a calmer mood.’

Researchers noted that this study only focused on adults receiving written health messages.

NUMBER OF PEOPLE WAITING MORE THAN TWO WEEKS TO SEE A GP SHOOTS UP BY 1.5M IN A YEAR

The number of people waiting more than two weeks to see their GP in England has shot up by more than 1.5million this year, official data shows.

Between January and March, 12.3million appointments were made 15 days or more after patients had booked to see their doctor. 

This is a 14 per cent rise from the 10.8million during the same period last year, and represents one in six patients overall.

Experts said the figures show how GPs’ workloads are expanding as the number of appointments continues to grow but the number of doctors falls. 

Waiting times vary across the country. The worst performing area kept almost one in three patients waiting a fortnight and the best fewer than one in 10.

The figures suggest a shortage of GPs is continuing to take its toll on patients.

Doctors have repeatedly warned growing patient lists, ageing populations and reducing numbers of new recruits are damaging the system.

Although the vast majority of appointments are booked and completed on the same day – 10million in March – the number of long waits has risen.

Many appointments with long waits are routine follow-ups or non-urgent visits, but experts said the figures are still a sign of doctors’ increasing workload.

Patients in Swindon are the most likely to wait 15 days or more between booking their appointment and actually having it, according to the data.

There, 30 per cent of the nearly 108,000 appointments in March took place more than two weeks after they were booked.

Other Clinical Commissioning Groups – local NHS boards – where at least a quarter waited two weeks included Newark and Sherwood in Nottinghamshire (27 per cent), and North Derbyshire, South West Lincolnshire, South Norfolk and the Isle of Wight, which all recorded 25 per cent.

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