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February 5, 1968

Psychophysiological Responses to Anesthesia and Operation

Author Affiliations

From the psychophysiology laboratories, departments of psychiatry and physiology (Dr. Williams), and the Section of Anesthesiology, Department of Surgery (Dr. Jones), University of Nebraska College of Medicine, Omaha.

JAMA. 1968;203(6):415-417. doi:10.1001/jama.1968.03140060039010

Each year millions of patients undergo operations, and to many, this constitutes the ultimate threat and produces maximal stress. Those of us to whom hospital procedures are routine often fail to recognize the extent of the patient's anxiety; consequently we ignore the implications of Alexander's observation that "every emotional state has its own physiological syndrome"1 and we neglect to take into account the role of anxiety as a determinant of the patient's physiological status immediately prior to and during anesthesia and operation. The pilot study reported here was undertaken in order to make possible a preliminary assessment of the degree and patterns of autonomic activity under these circumstances.

Evaluations of stress and drugs to suppress stress have often been accomplished by psychological testing, but this does not permit continuous objective monitoring. Psychophysiological techniques frequently employ the continuous and simultaneous recording of several physiological variables in order to increase the