Nov 1, 1994

Preparing children for the operating room: psychological issues

Canadian Journal of Anaesthesia = Journal Canadien D'anesthésie
T McGraw


Children respond psychologically to the prospect of surgery in a variable and age-dependent manner. This review summarizes the psychoanalytic, cognitive, behavioural and family system models of child development. It then reviews studies of hospitalization and anaesthesia in children. These studies suggest that younger children, children previously anaesthetized, and children who experience turbulent anaesthetic inductions are at particular risk for postoperative behavioural disturbances. Strategies of dealing with children and their parents during the perioperative period are discussed. Such strategies include: allowing a parent to be present during induction of anaesthesia, administering sedative premedication, creating a supportive environment, educating children and parents (verbal descriptions, tours, books, videos), and establishing rapport with children and their parents. Age-specific techniques of establishing rapport with children are discussed. If children are less anxious during the perioperative period, not only will they often exhibit less behavioural disturbances postoperatively, but they may face subsequent medical care more easily.

Mentioned in this Paper

Physician-Patient Relations
Child Behavior
Infant Development
Absence of Sensation
General Anesthesia
Hypnotics and Sedatives
Professional-Family Relations

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