Smartphone-based behavioural intervention alleviates children's anxiety during anaesthesia induction: A randomised controlled trial

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Abstract

BACKGROUND

Preoperative anxiety negatively influences children's anaesthetic and surgical experience, and results in postoperative complications, such as emergence delirium and behavioural changes. Nonpharmacological management using alternative therapies that alleviate psychological stress can be as important as pharmacological ones in reducing children's anxiety. Nevertheless, their validity as an effective anxiety-reducing strategy in children remains controversial.

OBJECTIVE(S)

To verify whether nonpharmacological strategies, that is, leaflet and distraction with smartphone application presented to parents/guardians and children, respectively, were effective in preventing children's anxiety during anaesthesia induction.

DESIGN

Randomised clinical trial.

SETTING

A tertiary care teaching hospital.

PATIENTS

In total, 84 children (aged 4 to 8 years; American Society of Anesthesiologists I and II) undergoing minor-to-moderate elective surgical procedures and their parents/guardians.

INTERVENTIONS

Children were randomised into four groups: control group, in which the parent/guardian was verbally informed about the anaesthetic procedure; the informed group, in which the parent/guardian was also provided with an information leaflet about the anaesthetic procedure; the smartphone group, in which the parent/guardian was verbally informed and the child received a smartphone application to play with while in the holding area before entering the operating room and the smartphone and informed group, in which the parent/guardian also received an information leaflet and the child, a smartphone application to play with while in the holding area before entering the operating room.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES

Children's anxiety at two time points: in the holding area of the surgical centre and in the operating room during induction of anaesthesia by facemask.

RESULTS

Median (IQR) anxiety levels were greater at time point operating room for children in the control group (55.0; range: 30.0 to 68.4) than in the other groups: informed group, 28.4 (23.4 to 45.0); smartphone group, 23.4 (23.4 to 30.0); smartphone and informed group, 23.4 (23.4 to 25.9).

CONCLUSION

The behavioural distraction strategies using smartphones were effective in preventing an increase in children's anxiety during anaesthesia induction.

TRIAL REGISTRATION

clinicaltrials.gov identifier: NCT02246062.

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