Objective: We hypothesized that a passive visual distraction would reduce pain and anxiety among women undergoing colposcopy.
Materials and Methods: We assessed the association between exposure to a passive visual distraction during colposcopy and procedure-related pain and anxiety using a nonrandomized intervention design. Women presenting for initial or repeat colposcopy at Brigham and Women’s Hospital Colposcopy Clinics were eligible for participation. Women undergoing colposcopy during the first 6 months of the study (n = 168) were not exposed to the visual distraction, whereas women undergoing colposcopy during the second 6 months of the study (n = 153) were exposed to a pleasing, passive visual distraction consisting of images on a light diffuser installed within the examination room’s ceiling light. We used ordinal logistic regression to compare self-reported pain, measured using the visual analog scale, and anxiety, measured using the Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory-6, among women receiving and not receiving the intervention.
Results: Two hundred sixteen women with complete data were included in the final analyses. Women in both groups reported high levels of colposcopy-related anxiety. Compared to women who did not receive the visual distraction, women receiving the visual distraction during colposcopy had a 54% reduction in the odds of experiencing a given level of postexamination pain, holding preprocedure pain constant (odds ratio = 0.46, 95% confidence interval = 0.28–0.77). Visual distraction was not associated with postexamination anxiety (odds ratio = 0.95, 95% confidence interval = 0.60–1.51).
Conclusions: A passive visual distraction reduced perceived pain, but not anxiety, after colposcopy.