“All in the mind” by Philip McKay

How to Reduce Pre-Appointment Anxiety of Your Patients?


Artwork by 360brain

Pre-appointment waiting can be stressful for many patients. According to a 2022 patient survey, almost 50% of Americans confirmed feeling anxious before a doctor’s visit. Not to mention the white coat syndrome affecting 15-30% of the population, which only intensifies patient nervousness. 

So, how can you ease the pre-appointment anxiety of your waiting patients? In this blog, you’ll discover 3 proven tips to effectively reduce patients’ stress levels and ensure a calm wait time experience in your clinic.

What is pre-appointment anxiety?

Pre-appointment anxiety is generally described as the feeling of worry and tension experienced before the doctor’s visit. This type of anxiety can be triggered by multiple factors, such as a patient’s emotional state, unnerving waiting room atmosphere, long wait time and more. 

When left unmanaged, pre-appointment anxiety can negatively impact treatment outcomes and form a poor perception of the quality of care. 


"Dr.PaulGachet" by Vincent Van Gogh

How to reduce a patient's pre-appointment anxiety?

If you want to help your patients cope with their anxious feelings, here are some proven tips to do so:

1. Optimize your waiting room design

Oftentimes, a patient’s pre-appointment anxiety is exacerbated by uncomfortable and dull waiting rooms. That’s why creating calmer surroundings is important to reduce their tension. 

That said, you don’t have to completely overhaul the waiting room design. Some biophilic decor, like nature photographs and green plants, could go a long way in lowering a patient’s stress and creating a serene atmosphere in the clinic’s waiting room.

2. Enhance visual experiences

Engaging visual stimuli plays a crucial role in reducing pre-appointment anxiety. By using a calming color scheme or artwork collections, you can not only create unique wayfinding but also positively affect patients’ mood. 

Another viable option is incorporating attention-grabbing elements like art screensavers on TV or digital signage can help decrease perceived wait time and thus improve patient experiences. 

3. Show empathy towards patient concerns 

Pre-appointment nerves are real. So when you provide patients with additional support, they no longer feel alone and distressed. 

One of the most effective ways is to start a conversation with your anxiety-ridden patients to address their pre-appointment concerns and help personalize their experiences. For that reason, discussing some neutral topics or surroundings can not only help distract them from restless nervousness but also foster a thoughtful, bonding interaction

A clinic waiting area displaying the photography playlist "Out of Stress" by WindowSight.
Artworks by: Michael Matti, Russell Ord, and Iris Scott

Photography by Babak Tafreshi

Illustration by Kateryna Bielobrova

Painting by Dan Hobday

Photography by Fernando Pedro Salgado

Ease patient’s pre-appointment
anxiety in your clinic

In this blog, we walked you through the definition of pre-appointment anxiety as well as some useful strategies on how you could help patients cope with their nerves. Now it’s time for more concrete steps to improve pre-appointment experiences in your clinic.

Download our Free Guide on 5 Waiting Room Design Secrets to improve wait time experience with no new hires or high operational costs.

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Enhance your patients’ wait time experiences today!

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