CHICAGO, June 25 (Xinhua) -- Patients will better comprehend health messages if they can relax and become calm, suggests a University of Michigan (UM) study posted on its website.
The findings posted on Monday came from four studies involving nearly 1,450 adults divided in groups. Some meditated or listened to audio that instructed breathing exercises and relaxation. Others simply listened to historical information.
After completing the listening task, all participants read information about flu, cancer, HIV, herpes and gonorrhea.
Participants who relaxed reported paying more attention to the health messages, the study showed. Meditation created a positive, low arousal affect, which enabled them to retain the information, said Allison Earl, assistant professor of psychology and study's co-author.
"A negative affect drives attention away from unpleasant or threatening information," she said.
The researchers recommend that people use their time wisely in the waiting room by meditating or listening to calming music, not simply watching television or playing on their cell phones.
In addition, if patients do not believe they can relax, they might consider taking a family member or friend to the appointment to take notes during the doctor's consultation.
Researchers noted that this study only focused on adults receiving written health messages; the findings should not be extrapolated beyond this without further research.
The findings have been published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.