Let's play about children's hospitalization and surgery


  • S. Fernandes
  • P. Arriaga
  • F. Esteves


Hospitalization and surgery are stressful life events for children and their family. The preoperative period is the most critical moment of the surgical process, involving negative emotions, cognitions and stress overload. The present study aimed to develop preoperative educational programs, in different formats, and test efficacy on cognitive, affective and physiological responses of children’s undergoing outpatient surgery. 190 children aged 8 to 12 (and their parents) were randomly assigned to one of the three conditions: 1) preoperative educational group, in which children received educational materials to provide them information about surgery, hospitalization and medical procedures; 2) preoperative distraction group, in which children use distractive materials intended only to entertain; and 3) control group, with no intervention. According to the preliminary results, there was a statistically significant and positive effect of the preoperative educational intervention on children’s worries about surgery (p˂0.001). In more detail, children in educational groups reported less worries (in all preoperative worries dimensions), compared to those in both distraction and control groups. Similarity, there was also a statistically significant decrease in parental anxiety in the preoperative educational group. These results do however support the hypothesis that providing preoperative materials with educational information reduce children’s preoperative negative responses. In conclusion, educational preoperative studies must be implemented on pediatric services to enhance all the surgical experience.





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