A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial of an Intervention to Promote Psychological Well-Being in Critically Ill Children: Soothing Through Touch, Reading, and Music*

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Abstract

Objectives:

To examine the feasibility and acceptability of a PICU Soothing intervention using touch, reading, and music.

Design:

Nonblinded, pilot randomized controlled trial.

Setting:

The PICU and medical-surgical wards of one Canadian pediatric hospital.

Patients:

Twenty PICU patients age 2–14 years old and their parents, randomized to an intervention group (n = 10) or control group (n = 10).

Intervention:

PICU Soothing consisted of: 1) parental comforting (touch and reading), followed by 2) a quiet period with music via soft headbands, administered once daily throughout hospitalization.

Measurements and Main Results:

Acceptability and feasibility of the intervention and methods were assessed via participation rates, observation, measurement completion rates, semistructured interviews, and telephone calls. Psychological well-being was assessed using measures of distress, sleep, and child and parent anxiety in the PICU, on the wards and 3 months post discharge. Forty-four percent of parents agreed to participate. Seventy percent and 100% of intervention group parents responded positively to comforting and music, respectively. Most intervention group parents (70%) and all nurses felt children responded positively. All nurses found the intervention acceptable and feasible. Measurement completion rates ranged from 70% to 100%. Pilot data suggested lower intervention group child and parent anxiety after transfer to hospital wards.

Conclusions:

PICU Soothing is acceptable and feasible to conduct. Results support the implementation of a full-scale randomized controlled trial to evaluate intervention effectiveness.

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