Measuring Anxiety in the Pediatric Emergency Department

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The objective of this study was to evaluate the agreement between the State Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) and other anxiety scales to determine whether these shorter to administer scales could replace the STAI.


This was a prospective cohort study on a convenience sample of children, aged 9 to 17 years, presenting to a pediatric emergency department. Patients were divided into 2 groups: preteens (PT) (aged 9–12 years) completed the pediatric STAI and teens (T) (aged 13–17 years) completed the adult STAI. Participants also completed a visual analog scale (0–100 mm), a Likert scale (1–5), and a short version of the STAI. Intraclass correlation (2-way mixed model, average measures) was used to evaluate agreement between the STAI and the other scales. A sample size of 100 patients per group was estimated as sufficient.


The median (interquartile range) STAI state anxiety scores were 33 (28.25–36.75) and 37.5 (32–44), in the PT (n = 100) and T (n = 100) groups, respectively. The median (interquartile range) STAI trait anxiety scores were 33.5 (28–38.75) and 36 (31–44), in the PT and T groups, respectively. Agreements between the STAI and the other scales were poor for all scales. At best, the intraclass correlation was 0.71 for the agreement between the STAI and the short version of the STAI.


There appears to be poor agreement between the STAI and the other scales designed to measure anxiety in children 9 to 17 years presenting to the pediatric emergency department.

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