Child life iPad distraction: a psychosocial tool for children receiving an injection

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University of Alabama Libraries

Distraction is a common and effective type of nonpharmacological intervention that offers support to children during medical procedures. Distraction helps children shift their attention away from a procedure to something more positive and engaging. Child life specialists are health care professionals who utilize distraction as a way to promote children's coping. Child life specialists are frequently using the iPad for interventions, including distraction, yet little research has examined the iPad as an effective distraction tool in pediatric health care. Also, few studies examine the psychosocial support that is provided by child life specialists during distraction. The purpose of this research was to assess the effectiveness of iPad distraction provided by a child life specialist on children receiving an injection at a pediatric clinic. Forty-one child participants, from 4- to 11-years-old, were randomly assigned to one of two groups: the standard iPad group and the child life iPad group. The standard iPad group received iPad distraction, but did not receive the component of child life. The child life iPad group received iPad distraction during an injection with psychosocial support from a child life specialist. Each child engaged with the iPad prior to the injection to provide familiarity and instruction on the specified iPad activity he or she would use. Children from 4- to 7-years-old engaged in "Talking Tom" and children 8- to 11-years-old played "Cut the Rope." Once the nurse entered the room to administer the injection, children in the child life iPad group were encouraged to continue playing the selected activity and were positively redirected to the iPad during the injection by the child life specialist. Children in the standard iPad group were not encouraged to continue engaging with the iPad, yet still had access to the iPad activity. The findings show that child life iPad distraction did not benefit those who received psychosocial support during the injection more than those who did not receive the psychosocial support. Gender and age differences were noted on children's pain and emotions during the injection with males and older children showing less pain and emotional behavior compared to females and younger children.

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Developmental psychology, Behavioral sciences