Child life-directed versus parent-directed distraction to reduce pain and distress during an immunization in preschool age children
This study examined whether there was a difference between a child life-directed distraction versus a parent-directed distraction in the pediatric medical setting with regard to the reduction of pain and anxiety in preschool age patients receiving an immunization. Additionally, this research examined whether during a simple immunization the caregiver's anxiety affected the child's anxiety. The study assessed 36 children who ranged in age from four to five years old. The children were randomly assigned to a child life distraction group (n=12), a parent distraction group (n=12), or a control group (n=12). These children received a routine immunization upon arriving at the doctors' office. This age group was chosen because one of the main stressors of children in this age range is the fear of bodily harm caused by pain. Results from this study supported the theory that the distraction of the pediatric patient by a child life specialist during an immunization resulted in decreased pain and post-procedural distress for the children. Parents in the child life specialist group reported a marginally significant difference showing that they provided the least amount of reassurances, apologies, and criticisms which correlated with a decrease in pain and researcher reported anxiety. Additionally, parent stress was highly correlated with the child's anxiety and pain. The overall pattern of results on all rating scales supports the use for a child life specialist during a routine immunization to help alleviate and reduce preschool age children's pain and anxiety.