Parents in the Operating Room

Alison Caldwell-Andrews

Knowing whether the presence of a parent diminishes or increases a child’s anxiety prior to surgery may soon be answered with a new psychometric instrument developed at Yale School of Medicine and the University of Georgia.

An article in the December issue of Anesthesiology details PCAMPIS (Perioperaitve Child-Adult Medical Procedure Interaction Scale), a scale that creates a complex coding of parent-child communications during the period before surgery. The instrument was developed by Alison Caldwell-Andrews, associate research scientist in the Department of Anesthesiology at Yale School of Medicine and Ronald Blount of the University of Georgia.

The senior author of the study, Zeev Kain, M.D., professor in the Departments of Anesthesiology, Pediatrics, and the Child Study Center at Yale, said bringing parents into the operating room for surgical procedures is not always beneficial to the child or to the parents and may even increase the child’s anxiety.

“We simply must look at the interactions between the parents and child,” said Kain, who is executive director and founder of the Center for the Advancement of Perioperative Health (CAPH) at the medical school. “We believe that what parents say and do is what is important, not simply whether or not they are present.”

Kain said the next step is to apply the new measurement tool, the PCAMPIS, to data researchers gather over the next few years. “Using cutting edge, coding video technology, we will be able to link interactions between parents and children to outcomes like anxiety and pain,” he said. “The end goal is to be able to provide helpful recommendations to parents and doctors in how to best help children.”

Anesthesiology 103(6): 1130-1135 (December 2005)

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