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Minimizing pediatric healthcare-induced anxiety and trauma

Journal title
World journal of clinical pediatrics
Publication year
Lerwick, J. L.

Frequently, episodes of care such as preventive clinic visits, acute care, medical procedures, and hospitalization can be emotionally threatening and psychologically traumatizing for pediatric patients. Children are often subject to psychological trauma, demonstrated by anxiety, aggression, anger, and similar expressions of emotion, because they lack control of their environment. This sense of helplessness, coupled with fear and pain can cause children to feel powerless in healthcare settings. These emotional responses can delay important medical treatment, take more time to complete and can reduce patient satisfaction. Healthcare professionals are uniquely positioned to prevent healthcare-induced trauma and reduce healthcare-induced anxiety. This article introduces a new way to choice, agenda, resilience and emotion (CARE) for pediatric patients in the healthcare setting by implementing the four following treatment principles called the care process: (1) Choices: Offer power in a powerless environment; (2) Agenda: Let patients and families know what to expect and what is expected of them; (3) Resilience: Highlight strengths and reframe negatives; and (4) Emotional support: Recognize and normalize common fears and responses. Engaging the CARE principles helps patients and families feel empowered and mitigates, reduces, and may even ameliorate risk of anxiety and trauma responses.

Research abstracts