Does Triggering an Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response Reduce Pre-Operative Anxiety? A Randomized Placebo Controlled Trial

Does Triggering an Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response Reduce Pre-Operative Anxiety? A Randomized Placebo Controlled Trial

Author Info

Corresponding Author
Kirsten R Carlaw
Sydney Medical Program, The University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


Background: Pre-operative anxiety is prevalent and associated with adverse patient outcomes. Many anxiolytic techniques have been utilized in the pre-operative setting, with varying degrees of success. The Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) is an increasingly popular method of relaxation used for anxiety reduction in general society. It is a non-invasive, inexpensive intervention with no known adverse effects. It has not been researched in a pre-operative setting. We aimed to investigate the effects of ASMR in the pre-operative patient population. Methods: This prospective, double-blind trial randomly allocated 50 participants into either a placebo or ASMR group. Pre-operative anxiety was compared before and after viewing specially formatted educational video information in either an ASMR or non-ASMR format with validated anxiety scales-Visual Analogue Scale (VAAS), Amsterdam Pre-operative Anxiety and Information Scale (APAIS) and State-Trait Anxiety Inventory. The physiological characteristics of heart rate and blood pressure were measured as secondary outcomes. Results: The control group demonstrated a reduction in pre-operative VAAS of 6.6 (p = 0.01) and 1.1 (p = 0.02) on the APAIS. The ASMR group had a reduction of APAIS of 1.9 (p = 0.005) and no change in the VAAS. Changes in State-Trait Anxiety Inventory for state anxiety score were the same in both groups. Increased trait anxiety was correlated with increased post-intervention VAAS and APAIS scores. There was no effect of pre-existing trait anxiety and pre-interventional anxiety on the efficacy of ASMR. Post-intervention, there was a significant decrease in mean systolic blood pressure by 2.7mmHg in ASMR group. In multivariable analysis, ASMR group had a drop of 3.9mmHg in post-intervention systolic blood pressure compared to placebo (p<0.05). Conclusion: While our findings are inconclusive, potential benefits of ASMR in reducing pre-operative anxiety should be further explored with a larger sample.

Article Info

Article Type
Research Article
Publication history
Received: Tue 11, Jan 2022
Accepted: Wed 26, Jan 2022
Published: Mon 14, Feb 2022
© 2021 Kirsten R Carlaw. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Hosting by Science Repository.
DOI: 10.31487/j.ACR.2022.01.02