Research by Dalhousie University student Katherine Mifflin has found that having children watch a video immediately prior to surgery can reduce their anxiety during anesthesia induction, the most stressful time for children throughout the perioperative process. Up to 50% of children display significant distress at the point of inhaled induction and separation from parents, fear, or exposure to a foreign environment may cause children to display high levels of distress during this time. Consequentially, children who experience high levels of distress at anesthesia induction may have more pain during recovery, longer hospital stays, and more negative behavior changes after surgery.
The research study was conducted at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia, under the supervision of Dalhousie professors Dr. Jill Chorney and Dr. Thomas Hackman.
"Our study is one of the first to examine the effectiveness of video to reduce anxiety in children undergoing inhaled induction," says Dr. Chorney. "On the basis of the previous research with cartoon and video use in minor medical procedures, it was expected that playing a video clip during anesthesia induction would be effective at reducing anxiety."
The goal of this research study was to determine whether video distraction can be used as a clinical tool by anesthesiologists to help reduce anxiety in their pediatric patients. The study found that playing video clips during the inhaled induction of children undergoing ambulatory surgery is an effective method of reducing anxiety and therefore pediatric anesthesiologists may consider using the strategy to achieve a smooth transition to the anesthetized state.
"The 97 study participants were assigned to either the experimental video distraction group or control group," notes Dr. Chorney. "Participants in the video distraction group were presented with a list of age-appropriate videos to choose from, asked what they enjoyed viewing at home, and a similar clip was found on YouTube™ for the child to view during induction. Enabling the participant to choose a video allowed for parental approval of the video and gave the child the opportunity to become familiar with the content, thus becoming engaged with the distractor and possibly avoiding anticipatory anxiety."
The findings were recently published in the journal Anesthesia and Analgesia.
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